Trump endorses Patrick Morrisey for U.S. Senate

CHARLESTON — President Donald Trump said he is all in for West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in the November general election.

He is also all in on coal, after his administration announced doing away with the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.

Trump traveled Tuesday evening to the Charleston Civic Center under a cloud of breaking news regarding convictions and plea deals involving his former associates. This was Trump’s sixth visit to West Virginia and his second visit to Charleston since the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rally, planned by Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, brought in thousands of supporters from the state and the region. Trump is traveling across the country to rally support around candidates that can keep congressional control in Republican hands.

Trump made it clear that he needed Morrisey to keep moving his agenda forward in Congress.

“He’s got energy and a lot of talent,” Trump said. “A vote for Patrick Morrisey is truly a vote to make America great again.”

“Donald Trump and I are fighting every day for our coal miners and the hardworking men and women of our state,” Morrisey said after Trump invited him on stage. “He’s trying to get the man off your back, and I’m trying to help him. One of the best ways I can help Trump is if you send me to the Senate, where I can be a big ally of the president.”

Trump also endorsed West Virginia’s entire Republican slate of candidates for Congress. He called out congressional leaders in the minority party for not having West Virginia’s best interests at heart.

“They’re not in favor of West Virginia,” Trump said. “They don’t know that West Virginia exists. They don’t like coal. They don’t like energy.

“If you vote for Joe Manchin or any other Democrat in November, you’re voting for someone who wants to destroy the coal industry,” Trump continued.

Trump focused on several of the common themes he brings up at his rallies. He talked about the nation’s economic growth, his desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico, his support for tightened immigration restrictions and enforcement, foreign policy regarding North Korea and the independent counsel investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

Trump enjoyed a 63 percent approval rating in West Virginia in July, according to survey research company Morning Consult. The crowd, numbering more than 10,000 by some estimates, constantly cheered references to Trump’s actions as president, and jeered mentions of Democratic leaders in Congress, Manchin and even news outlets.

“I’ll tell you, (the media) have pushed you down forever,” said Gov. Jim Justice before Trump took the stage.

“Our coal miners are on the way back, and greatly because of Donald Trump,” Justice said. “I can never thank him enough for what he has done for this nation. He has restored integrity and respect.”

There was no mention of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort being convicted on eight counts, including tax and bank fraud, Tuesday afternoon. There was also no mention of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleading guilty to eight counts, including campaign finance violations by paying women to secure their silence about alleged affairs with the president.

Melody Potter, the chairwoman of the West Virginia Republican Party, criticized Manchin for voting against the tax cut plan passed by Congress last year and supported by Trump.

“Roses are red, turtles are slow. On Trump’s tax cuts Joe voted no,” Potter said through a poem. “I am a proud Republican and I support President Trump. He is truly making America great again.”

West Virginia’s 2nd District Congressman, Republican Alex Mooney, encouraged the crowd to get out and vote Nov. 6. Mooney is facing Democrat Talley Sergent, the former in-state staffer for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“The Democrats are counting on us to stay home in November,” Mooney said. “Let’s disappoint them again. Let’s prove these polls wrong. Let’s stand up for President Trump.”

“Some way, somehow, you’ve got to be the movement to get the vote out to ensure a Republican House and a Republican Senate,” Justice added during his remarks.

Justice — a friend of Manchin — also endorsed Morrisey after being brought on stage by Trump.

“(Morrisey) needs you, he needs all of you to go out and be warriors. He can win this, and this man needs him,” Justice said, pointing to Trump.

Earlier Tuesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to endorse Morrisey, calling him a “hardworking and spectacular person.”

“Patrick has great Energy & Stamina — I need his VOTE to MAGA (make America great again). Total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted. “…Having Patrick, a real fighter, by my side, would make things so much easier.”

Morrisey, a Republican serving his second term as West Virginia’s attorney general, beat back six other candidates to secure the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. He faces Manchin, running for his second full term in the Senate. The former West Virginia governor ran in a special election in 2010 to fill the remaining term of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

Trump also talked about the coal industry and his desire to build the industry back up to pre-Obama levels, including replacing Obama-era regulations on coal-fired power plants.

“The coal industry is back,” Trump said. “When I came here originally, the coal industry was down and out. West Virginia — on a per capita basis — is now one of the most successful GDP (Gross Domestic Product) states. We went from being down and out to being one of the most successful in the union.”

Data released by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research showed an uptick in coal productions between 2016 and 2018 because of export gains. The bureau went on to forecast a 5 million ton drop in coal production over the next two years.

Tuesday morning, the Environmental Protection Agency released the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule for public comment. ACE replaces the Clean Power Plan (CPP) created by the administration of former President Barack Obama. ACE would give more flexibility to the states to determine how to best reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are canceling Obama’s illegal, anti-coal regulations. The so-called Clean Power Plan,” Trump said. “We’re the cleanest country on the planet right now. There’s no one cleaner than us, and it’s getting better and better, but I’m getting rid of some of these ridiculous rules and regulations that are killing our companies, our states and our jobs.”

The CPP, which the EPA first proposed in 2015, aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. It required states to implement emission reduction plans or the EPA would come up with its own plan for the state. It called for a 32 percent reduction in emissions levels by 2030, with incentives for using renewable energy sources. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the CPP rule.

Manchin released a statement through his campaign Tuesday supporting the ACE rule.

“I have spoken out against the Clean Power Plan since day one, and I am pleased that we are closer to ending this failed policy that hurt West Virginia,” Manchin said. “I am hopeful that this new approach from the Trump Administration will help stabilize energy jobs.”

According to the EPA, existing coal-fired power plants can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making efficiency upgrades. The agency estimates that replacing CPP with ACE could result in $3.4 billion in net benefits, or $400 million annually, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 34 percent by 2030.

“To continue this success, we must elect more Republicans,” Trump said. “Loyal citizens like you helped build this country. Together we’re taking back this country.”

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