A tearful unemployed father who recently lost his job as a coal worker has confronted Hillary Clinton about her plan to ‘put the coal industry out of business’.
At an event in West Virginia, Bo Copley asked Clinton why voters should believe her pledge to help revitalize the region’s economy with initiatives including renewable energy.
He was referencing Clinton’s remarks to a CNN town hall event in March, when Clinton talked about her plan for renewable energy, the economy and how she would help America’s coal country recover from an increasing switch to renewable energy.
She told the forum: ‘We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business’.
Copley broke down as he slid over a photograph of his three young children to Clinton during the community round-table discussion, telling her he didn’t know how to explain to his children that he had lost his job as a coal worker.
It prompted the Democratic front-runner to apologize profusely and insist her prior comments were ‘a misstatement.’
WHAT DID HILLARY SAY?
QUESTION: Make the case to poor whites who vote Republican why they should vote for you and your economic policies
I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right Tim?
And we’re gonna make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives, to turn on our lights and power our factories.
Now, we’ve gotta move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t wanna move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.
So whether it’s coal country or Indian country or poor urban areas, there is a lot of poverty in America. We have gone backwards. We were moving in the right direction. In the ’90s more people were lifted out of poverty than any time in recent history.
Because of the terrible economic policies of the Bush administration, President Obama was left with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and people fell back into poverty because they lost jobs, they lost homes, they lost opportunities, and hope.
So I am passionate about this, which is why I have put forward specific plans about how we incentivize more jobs, more investment in poor communities, and put people to work.
Clinton released a $30 billion plan last fall aimed at aiding communities dependent on coal production and investing in renewable energy there. She’s promised that her husband would focus on revitalizing the region.
But her efforts haven’t been helped by a remark she made during a CNN forum in March, when she said she would ‘put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.’
She was responding to a question about how her policies would benefit poor white people in southern states.
But Copley, referring to protesters at the event, told the presidential hopeful: ‘Those people out there don’t see you as a friend.’
Copley asked her: ‘How you could say you are going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs and then come in here and tell us how you’re going to be our friend?’
Clinton repeatedly apologized, NBC News reports, insisting that she had talked about helping coal country ‘for a very long time’.
Called her prior remarks a ‘misstatement,’ she said: ‘What I was saying is that the way things are going now, we will continue to lose jobs. That’s what I meant to say.’
She added: ‘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,’ she said.
‘I want you to know I’m going to do whatever I can to help no matter what happens politically.’
She added: ‘Whether or not West Virginia supports me, I’m going to support you.’
Clinton admitted that her comments on coal miners had hindered her chances of winning West Virginia, a state that overwhelmingly backed her eight years ago in her primary fight against then-Sen. Barack Obama.
Copley, who is 39 and a registered Republican, said he appreciates Clinton’s apology but wished she had done it sooner, NBC News reports.
Although he plans to vote in the Republican primary on May 10, he added that he hasn’t made up his mind about who he will vote for.
‘Still supporting her hurts you,’ he told Sen. Joe Manchin, who joined Clinton at the small round-table event. ‘It’s not a good outlook here.’
Clinton is in the midst of a two-day campaign swing through Appalachia ahead of voting in that region later this month.
She was met in West Virginia by hundreds of protesters, who waved Donald Trump signs and chanted ‘Kill-ary.’
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.