Courting coal country, Trump vows to put miners back to work

Donald Trump sat down with coal miners Wednesday and promised to put them back to work, seeking to strengthen his appeal in parts of the country hit hard by the natural gas boom and the shift away from dirtier fossil fuels.


A day after sparking a fresh and unwanted campaign controversy with comments about the Second Amendment, Trump appeared subdued — almost professorial, at times — during a pair of events in rural Virginia. Accusing Democrat Hillary Clinton of wanting to close coal mines, he quizzed a group of mining executives and foremen about whether government rules were choking their industry.

“You’ve been put in an impossible position, as far as mines are concerned,” Trump said, with little of the bombast his supporters have come to expect. In a nod to environmental concerns that Clinton has been voicing, Trump added: “We want clean water. We want clear air, obviously. We also want jobs.”

Trump’s intimate discussion with miners at an industrial garage near the Tennessee border was a rare departure from the massive rallies and speeches that have characterized his campaign. He returned to the rally setting shortly after in nearby Abingdon and lamented that coal workers don’t vote in larger numbers.

“You just don’t vote. I think it’s because you’ve been beaten so badly as an industry,” Trump said. But, he said, “you have absolutely nothing to lose.”

It’s an issue resonating deeply among voters in some of the most competitive states in the election, including Virginia and Pennsylvania, where dependence on the energy industry runs high. In recent years, scores of jobs have been lost due to the low cost of natural gas and declining demand for fuels like coal that pump large amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the air.

Clinton, who has been criticized for saying the U.S. will shutter coal mines, has tried to shift her focus to helping workers adjust to the industry’s decline by finding new ways to make a living. At the same time, she’s emphasized the need to address climate change aggressively, a priority that Trump has rejected.

Trump’s low-key appearances in Virginia came the day after he faced an uproar for suggesting in a North Carolina rally that gun-rights enthusiasts might find a way to stop Clinton if she’s elected, a remark that Democrats said encouraged violence against the Democratic nominee. Clinton, campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, said Trump had crossed the line with “casual inciting of violence.”

“Every single one of these incidents shows us that Donald Trump simply does not have the temperament to be president and commander in chief,” she said.

Trump didn’t mention the controversy directly in his appearances Wednesday, but he did launch a concerted attack against Clinton running mate Tim Kaine in the Virginia senator’s home state. Trump criticized Kaine’s record on taxes and the Virginia economy while arguing that Kaine would hurt Clinton’s election prospects rather than help them.

“You know what? I wish him luck,” Trump said. “I don’t know. Whatever.”

Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courting-coal-country-trump-vows-to-put-miners-back-to-work/2016/08/10/ca84aa5e-5f47-11e6-84c1-6d27287896b5_story.html

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