West Virginia could prove strong Trump territory Tuesday

By Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press

Donald Trump could deliver an overwhelming win in West Virginia, where the billionaire is popular for promising to bring back coal jobs and Clinton has been largely shunned for making comments perceived as an affront on coal.

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Donald Trump could deliver an overwhelming win in West Virginia, where the billionaire is popular for promising to bring back coal jobs and Clinton has been largely shunned for making comments perceived as an affront on coal.

The dynamic has resulted in one of the few states where Republicans aren't shying from the billionaire businessman, and instead look to ride his coattails. Meanwhile, many Democrats down ballot are scrambling to distance themselves from Clinton and have refused to endorse her.

The Mountain State was one of Trump's most supportive in the Republican primary. In May, the billionaire businessman donned a miner helmet at a Charleston rally and vowed to bring back coal jobs, largely defying economic forecasts.

Trump's team handed out signs that read, "Trump Digs Coal." If elected, he told the audience, "We're going to put the miners back to work."

"You're going to be working your asses off," he told the miners in the crowd.

Clinton suffered a loss in the Democratic primary to Bernie Sanders. Her husband, Bill Clinton, was the last Democrat to win West Virginia two decades ago. In May, the former president was booed when he went to the coalfields community of Logan.

The same day, Hillary Clinton was met outside of a campaign event in Williamson by hundreds of protesters in the rain who waved Donald Trump signs and chanted "Kill-ary."

Republicans up and down the ballot have repeatedly cited Clinton's statement before the primary that she would "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." In her full statement, she was stressing that the country can't abandon coal workers as the economy shifts away from fossil fuels. She later said it was a "misstatement," but the sound bite has remained a key GOP weapon.

"I can't take it back and I certainly can't get people who for political reasons or personal reasons, very painful reasons, are upset with me," Clinton said after the comment. "I'm going to do whatever I can to try to help."

Clinton already was hampered in coal country by her support for President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, an anti-global warming push that imposes limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Clinton's campaign has said her visits to Appalachia show she's willing to reach out to everyone, including people who don't support her.

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