The mayor of a West Virginia coal mining town who asked Bill Clinton not to appear there for a campaign event over the weekend explained his opposition to the former first couple in an interview with The Daily Caller.
“My grandfather came to this country to work in the coal mines, and that’s why I’m here,” Logan Mayor Serafino Nolletti said in a phone interview on Monday.
Last week, Nolletti, who is of Italian descent, sent a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin requesting that he not bring the former president to the town for a campaign rally which was to be held at the Logan fire department.
Nolletti and many others in the town oppose the Clintons’ stance on coal mining, which they say contributes to climate change.
“Mrs. Clinton’s anti-coal messages are the last thing our suffering town needs at this point,” reads the letter. (RELATED: West Virginia Mayor: The Clintons ‘Are Simply Not Welcome In Our Town’)
The former secretary of state recently drew the ire of coal country when she said at a town hall event in March: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Nolletti spoke to Manchin by phone on Saturday, he said. And while the moderate Democrat said he understood Nolletti’s position — Manchin has even criticized Clinton for her “horrible statement” — he appeared with Bill Clinton at an event at Logan’s middle school on Sunday.
Clinton was not well received by some in the audience at the school. They booed and heckled the 42nd president, and he responded dismissively.
“This is where they start screaming because they don’t want to hear this,” he said.
“We’re all hurting here. Business people are hurting,” Nolletti told TheDC, noting that one of his city councilmen is considering declaring bankruptcy on his machine shop, which depends on work from the coal mining industry.
The rest of the town of 1,800 is dependent almost solely on the industry.
“It’s all Logan has been is all coal mine related. Everything here is coal mine related,” Nolletti says.
“I’ve got to support our coal miners. I have to walk down these streets every day. I’ve lived here my whole life, 60 years, and I plan on living here the rest of my life.”
“I have to face the people,” he added.
Hillary Clinton has said that if she’s elected president she will enact policies that will offset the economic hit associated with moving away from coal.
But asked if he has faith that Clinton will make good on those promises if she’s elected, Nolletti expressed little confidence.
“Well, I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.
Nolletti, who said he’s received an outpouring of support for his opposition to the Clintons, said he’s leaning toward supporting GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
“He’s the only one who’s come out and said anything about coal mining that we like to hear,” Nolletti said.
“I hope whoever it is, whichever one, they come here and try to help us.”