Hillary Clinton apologizes to coal country over 'out of business' comments

Pelosi: Hillary Clinton is playing the 'experience card'

WILLIAMSON, W.Va.— Hillary Clinton, in a rare candid moment on the trail, apologized to a man who confronted her over comments made earlier this year about putting coal miners "out of business."

Bo Copley, a West Virginian who recently lost his job at a coal company, teared up as he told the former secretary of state that he didn't know how to explain his situation or her comments to his young children. Seated beside his wife, Copley slid over a photo of his kids to Clinton, who was sitting a just few feet from him at the community round-table discussion.

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He questioned how she could say what she said at a CNN forum in March —"We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business" — and then "come in here and tell us how you're going to be our friend."

He also told her he was representative of the angry crowd who had assembled outside hours before.

"Those people out there don't see you as a friend," he said, referring to the dozens of protesters within earshot.

Clinton then engaged in a very frank conversation about her comments, apologizing repeatedly and calling her prior remarks a "misstatement."

"What I said was totally out of context from what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time," 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 later admitted that her comments on coal miners meant her chances in the upcoming West Virginia primary are "pretty difficult."

Aides said they knew coming to the region could produce tough conversations like this one, but felt it was important to address this issue head-on. The confrontation came in the midst of a two-day bus swing through Appalachia, featuring mostly small events focused on the economy and jobs.

RELATED: Hillary Clinton potential running mates:

Hillary Clinton potential running mates, VPs
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Hillary Clinton apologizes to coal country over 'out of business' comments

Tim Kaine

The junior Democratic Senator from the swing state of Virginia could be a strategic selection for Hillary. Kaine also served as the governor of Virginia from 2006- 2010.

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Warren

The current U.S. Senator from Massachusetts is popular among progressive Democrats, and some even tried to draft her to run for president herself in 2016. 

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sherrod Brown

Insiders believe that the senior U.S. Senator from Ohio could help Clinton increase her popularity with working-class voters, a group she has yet to win in a big way so far in primary contests.  

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cory Booker

The U.S. Senator from New Jersey is both youthful and charismatic and would add racial diversity to a Clinton ticket. 

(Photo by KK Ottesen for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Tom Perez

The current U.S. Secretary of Labor is considered a sleeper pick by many Democrats because he is not well known outside of D.C., but some believe his strength and popularity among union workers and other progressive groups could be an asset to Clinton's ticket. 

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Bernie Sanders

The Independent from Vermont has become Hillary Clinton's primary rival for the Democratic nomination, garnering a surprising amount of support. Bringing Sanders onto the ticket could help to unite both sets of supporters who have been split in Democratic primaries.

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Martin O'Malley

A former 2016 rival of Hillary Clinton, and former Maryland governor, Martin O’Malley could help bring some executive experience, along with a slight youthful boost to the ticket.

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Tom Vilsack

The Secretary of Agriculture since 2009, Tom Vilsack also served as the governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. Vilsack could bring some governing experience along with swing state influence.  


Evan Bayh 

Evan Bayh could bring a more right leaning brand of politics to the ticket. Bayh previously served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011, and also as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997.  

Joe Biden

While the likelihood of him agreeing to take on the veep job again might be low, Biden's popularity among Democrats would likely boost Clinton's chances. 

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Bill Clinton

Hillary's husband is technically allowed to serve in the job, and some legal experts even think he'd be able to take office if necessary. Unfortunately for the diehard Clinton supporters, a Clinton-Clinton ticket will probably be a dream that never comes true. 

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


After the event, Copley told reporters he "would have liked to have heard more of what her plan is" for coal country.

When asked if she won him over, he said no.

Copley, 39, is a registered Republican and explained that he hasn't made up his mind about which candidate he's going to vote for in the primary.

"I'm not into political games. I'm not worried about the primary," he said. "I want to hear the plans you have in store for us if you do get elected."

Though he appreciated Clinton's apology, he said he wished it had been made in public sooner than Monday's event.

Outside the event, protesters could be heard yelling "Go home, Hillary!" Several were carrying Trump signs and alternated between chants of "Benghazi! Benghazi!" and "We want Trump!"

Clinton meanwhile made indirect reference to the protests by saying: "I will do whatever I can regardless of whether people are yelling at me and whether people are misrepresenting me or whether people are not looking at everything I say and taking something out of context. That's part of it, I understand that. But I'm gonna get up every single day trying to figure out what to do to help you provide the kind of future for your children that they deserve to have."

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