After questions from Manchin, Clinton walks back controversial coal comments

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, is attempting to revise some of her coal comments from Sunday’s CNN Town Hall in Columbus, Ohio after being contacted by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

A senior advisor to Manchin told MetroNews’ Hoppy Kercheval Manchin was “troubled and concerned by the comments and reached out directly to the Secretary and her senior advisor for energy.”

He also reportedly spoke with former President Bill Clinton in his attempts to clarify Secretary Clinton’s response to a question about how she would make the case for her candidacy to “poor whites who vote Republican.”

In that response on CNN, she said the following: “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 going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Critics have seized on that line, though Clinton’s answer did continue.

“We’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people,” she went on to say.

“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 got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.”

On Tuesday, Manchin received a personal letter from Clinton that reiterated her commitment to coal miners.

“Simply put, I was mistaken in my remarks,” she wrote in that letter to Manchin of her CNN comments.

“I wanted to make the point that, as you know too well, while coal will be part of the energy mix for years to come, both in the U.S. and around the world, we have already seen a long-term decline in American coal jobs and a recent wave of bankruptcies as a result of a changing energy market — and we need to do more to support the workers and families facing these challenges.”

In that letter, Clinton backed the Miners Protection Act, legislation Manchin co-sponsored which, if approved, would secure health benefits and pensions for retired miners and their families.

She also made a promise to Manchin.

“I pledge to you that I will focus my team and my Administration on bringing jobs to Appalachia, especially jobs producing the carbon capture technology we need for the future,” she wrote in the letter dated March 15.

“As this campaign continues, I look forward to consulting with you on how we can help coal communities in West Virginia and across the country build the future they deserve.”

Manchin’s camp indicated he will meet personally with Clinton’s campaign, in the coming weeks or months, to provide input on the campaign’s coal policy.

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