Blankenship hits back at Trump: He backed a candidate ‘accused of pedophilia’

Controversial West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship brushed aside President Trump’s call to vote against him by noting that Trump once urged voters to back a Republican candidate facing allegations of child molestation.

Blankenship, a former coal executive who served a year in prison for a mine safety violation, has been locked in a brutal fight with establishment Republicans. The GOP fears Blankenship’s criminal record, as well as his recent incendiary attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his family, would ruin the party’s chances of defeating Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the fall.

That concern prompted Trump himself to tweet to his followers on Monday morning to vote for either of Blankenship’s opponents in Tuesday’s primary.

“To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!” Trump tweeted.

Hours later, Blankenship hit back.

“We all really like President Trump’s policies, but we know he doesn’t get things right. He recommended people vote for a guy that was basically accused of pedophilia in Alabama, my accuser is Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, it’s not anyone that I’ve damaged,” he said Monday during an interview the campaign paid to air on WZTS TV in West Virginia.

“It’s really sad that the pressure on the president and the misinformation and the untruths he’s been given would cause him to suggest that you vote for two guys that have failed you, because I will not fail you if I get to D.C.”

Blankenship is referring to Trump’s support for Roy Moore, who won the Republican nomination in December’s special Senate election in Alabama. Trump and the Republican National Committee stood by Moore even as allegations of child molestation and sexual assault surfaced in the final weeks before the election. Moore ultimately lost his race to now-Sen. Doug Jones (D).

The West Virginian has regularly argued that the government was responsible for the explosion at his mine that killed 29 people and has gone on to accuse the Obama administration’s Justice Department of seeking a politically motivated prosecution of him.

The Moore comparisons come as Republicans try to argue to voters that Blankenship would be as risky a choice as Moore, a candidate who lost a deep-red Senate seat to the Democrats.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Manchin Mitch McConnell Roy Moore
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