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Hillary Clinton hears about job woes at AK Steel

Hillary Clinton makes a campaign stop in Ashland, Ky., Monday where she listens to steelworkers discuss the problems created through job losses at AK Steel. (WCHS/WVAH)

ASHLAND, Ky. (WCHS/WVAH) - During a campaign stop in Ashland, Kentucky on Monday, Hillary Clinton was flanked by steelworkers and families who made it clear what was on the minds of many residents in the area -- the hundreds of layoffs at AK Steel.

WATCH | Raw video interview with Hillary Clinton

"I'm determined we are going to tackle some of these issues that have been undermining the economy here today," Clinton said during an appearance at Alma's Italian restaurant on 15th Street.

Clinton entered the restaurant at about 1:10 p.m. and greeted people and shook hands throughout the room. One of the very first things the Democratic presidential candidate mentioned was AK Steel and the problem that China had created with dumping steel into the market -- an issue that she said the country has "got to take on."

An AK Steel employee who identified himself as Scott talked about how the steel company once had 5,000 employees, but had dwindled to just a couple hundred. He said the problems that had been created for the steel company had a trickle-down effect that had cost his girlfriend her job at another company. AK Steel recently had to idle its blast furnace.

"Dumping steel has killed us," he said. "It's not an even playing field."

Clinton said there had to be a whole agenda created to have fair trade. She said she is dead-set against making China a market economy. She said the steel-dumping situation has put the United States at an unfair advantage and the problems that have been experienced at AK Steel are having a ripple effect on everything from the railroad industry to manufacturing.

If she is elected as president, Clinton said, she would create the position of trade prosecutor. She said she wants the U.S. government to prosecute violations. She said the U.S. has got to look at tariffs and ways to make it expensive for China to get into our market.

Clinton also said care needs to be taken with the rules of origin, so that China does not enter the U.S. market through the backdoor with products going through other countries.

"I do believe in fair trade," Clinton said. "I don't believe we should be subsidizing the rest of the world to trade with us."

Several others in the crowd talked about the hardships that had been created for the families of steelworkers and for the local economy. One man said it was particularly difficult for older steelworkers and that he feared there would be a "brain drain" when those folks left the area and could no longer contribute to the community.

"It's hard, really hard," Clinton said of the struggles the community is facing with AK Steel.

In other matters, Clinton said she is a firm believer that "we have to keep making it in America." She said if people are not making products in the country and all everyone is doing is trading things, then there will be a diminishing of the economy.

Clinton also said she has put together economic plans, including one for coal country, and she urged people to go to her website and to take a look at what she has outlined.

"I'm trying to tell you what I'm going to do, so you can hold me accountable," Clinton said.

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