GOP, industry backlash after Clinton’s coal comments

Republicans and the coal industry are lashing out at Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonFULL SPEECH: Bernie Sanders pleads for unity behind Clinton Jane Sanders: 'Never had control over our supporters, nor have we ever tried’ Celebrities make the case for Clinton MORE for the Democratic presidential hopeful’s prediction that her policies would put many coal companies and miners out of business.

Clinton made the comment Sunday at a CNN town hall event while promoting her plans to help coal communities recover from the drop in demand.

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“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 companies and coal miners out of business,” Clinton said.

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

The blunt statement harkened back to President Obama’s declaration during the 2008 presidential campaign that under his preferred climate change policy — a cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions — “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat to watch for on Day 2 at the GOP convention Cyber squatters sitting on valuable VP web addresses Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (R-Ky.), himself a presidential candidate until last month, quickly shot back at Clinton on Twitter, saying that she “said out loud what the national democrat party has been trying to do quietly for the past 8 years” and accusing her of joining Obama’s “war on coal and Kentucky.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellProgressive group changes tone on Kaine Trump hits Kaine on TPP: He supports a 'job killer' Clinton maps out first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.), while not mentioning Clinton by name, spoke on the Senate floor of leading Democrats “boasting” about putting coal miners out of business.

“What they want is to provide for their families, but here’s how more Democrats seem to view these hard-working Americans and their families: just statistics, just the cost of doing business, just obstacles to their ideology,” he said. “This is callous. It is wrong. And it underlines the need to stand up for hard-working, middle-class coal families.”

The National Mining Association joined in.

Hal Quinn, the group’s president, said it is “surpassing strange and deeply troubling to hear prominent presidential candidates boast of their determination in office to destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans.”

“By flippantly writing-off the well-being of countless coal miners, their families and all of those involved in the coal-based electricity industry, Secretary Clinton is showing Ohio’s voters her true colors ahead of tomorrow’s primary,” the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity agreed.

Clinton’s campaign defended the remarks and accused Republicans of trying to twist her words to show a disregard for coal workers.

“Obviously she was making the exact opposite point: that we have to take proactive steps to make sure coal workers, their families and their communities get not just the benefits they’ve earned, but also the future they deserve,” spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement.

“From fighting to protect retired miners' pensions to proposing new incentives to economically revitalize coal country, no candidate in this race is more devoted to supporting coal communities than Hillary Clinton,” he said.

Clinton outlined a $30 billion plan in November to try to revitalize coal-dependent communities and get jobs for former miners while increasing funding for carbon capture technology for coal plants, among other measures.