Can Clinton win over out-of-work coal miners?

It's going to be an uphill battle in a region that blames its economic problems on Democrats' environmental policies. 

Jim Young/Reuters
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shares a laugh with workers during a campaign event in Ashland, Ky., on Monday.

Hillary Clinton wants to wean the country off coal, but not to the detriment of the families and communities in coal country who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.

The details of how the Democratic presidential candidate, and descendant of Appalachian coal miners, would do this is likely to be a topic of conversation on Monday when Mrs. Clinton visits coal and steel workers in the economically struggling Appalachian region, where she is seeking union support.

Clinton will meet the head of a local steel workers' union and retired mine workers in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio, states in a region struggling with poverty and joblessness. West Virginia's unemployment rate of 6.5 percent in March was well above the national rate of 5 percent, according to US Labor Department data. Ohio had 5.1 percent unemployment, while Kentucky was at 5.6 percent.

These trends have pushed some frustrated voters toward Republican frontrunner Dondald Trump's pro-coal, anti-trade message. Even with Clinton's pledge of more than $30 billion to help prop up coal-dependent regions with healthcare coverage, broadband Internet, and grants for small businesses, recruiting Mr. Trump's supporters there will be hard. This is especially true in light of her comment in March that promised to "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

"The Obama Administration has instituted sweeping regulations that have crushed West Virginia's foundation without considering the real world impacts those policies have on families, communities and the economy," Amy Graham, spokeswoman for the state's Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, told Bloomberg.

"Hillary Clinton's new proposal signals her intention to finish what President Obama started when he promised to bankrupt coal," she said.

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned for his wife on Sunday in West Virginia, where he was met with protests from Trump supporters.

West Virginia voted for Mr. Clinton in 1996 when he was running for his second four-year term. This was the last time the state voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. He also is the only Democrat to have won Kentucky since 1980.

This report contains material from Reuters.

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