Trump touts West Virginia, country's success, takes jabs at U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin
GREENBRIER COUNTY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) - In his fourth visit to West Virginia, President Donald Trump on Thursday talked about the success that the Mountain State has had since he took office and he took several jabs at U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
“I don’t know if you know your state is doing well,” Trump said at a roundtable at the White Sulphur Springs Civic Center in Greenbrier County. “Big Jim (Gov. Jim Justice) is doing a good job, particularly since he turned a Republican.”
Flanked by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., both of whom are GOP candidates for U.S. Senate along with Don Blankenship, the president made it clear he is not happy with Manchin.
“Democrats have a problem – look at your senator, Joe,” Trump said.
The president said Manchin, along with other Democrats, voted against the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul and against “medical help and health care,” which he described as “very bad.”
“He (Manchin) does other things I don’t like. You have a chance to get a senator who supports our program and can help,” Trump said.
A day before the roundtable, Manchin released a statement about the event, saying there is “growing concern among the people of the Mountain State about the tax plan, and Washington finally realized they need to come to West Virginia and answer the following questions.”
Manchin said state residents need to know what the 200,000 West Virginians do when they lose health care coverage; how much will Republicans cut from Medicare and Social Security; what happens when rural hospitals go bankrupt; why the plan is causing insurance premiums to go up; why the middle class tax changes are not permanent; and why Senate President Mitch McConnell is blocking coal miners’ pensions.
“These are important questions that deserve answers during tomorrow’s event in White Sulphur Springs,” Manchin said. “We need to quit playing politics with West Virginians’ lives.
During his remarks at the roundtable, the president said West Virginia is making progress since he took office, and his promise to bring coal back – a promise he made during the campaign – is now reaping dividends.
“I’m very proud of West Virginia. Percentage-wise, you are one of the nation’s biggest gainers. We are working on clean coal. The miners are happy,” Trump said.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., cited several examples of how the tax cuts have helped West Virginians.
She mentioned a worker at a Holiday Inn who said the extra $50 in her paycheck allowed her to purchase high-speed internet so her daughter could do her homework. Another example cited by Capito was a man in Huntington who said his employer gave him a $1,000 raise as a result of the tax overhaul pushed through by the Trump administration.
Several West Virginia employers stepped up to speak about the difference that the tax cuts have made in the lives of their employees.
Meanwhile, Trump also introduced Jenkins and Morrisey, who will face off in the May 8 primary against Blankenship, a former executive with Massey Energy. The winner of that GOP race will face Manchin in the November general election.
Jenkins said one of the biggest things he appreciates about the president is that he is “a man who keeps his promises.”
“I was a proud early supporter of you in the campaign,” Jenkins said. “You promised you were going to put an end to the war on coal. Thank you for keeping that promise.”
Jenkins said the average West Virginia family with two kids is receiving about $1,100 more a year due to the tax cuts, With the average mortgage in West Virginia about $600, he said, the tax cuts have resulted in covering about three months’ worth of house payments for state residents.
His opponent in the Republican primary, Morrisey, also lauded the president. He said during the Obama administration, he said as an attorney general it seemed like he had to file an action every other day and the state had a “bull’s eye on us.”
“Your policies really have made an incredible difference in West Virginia,” Morrisey said.
Morrisey said the president’s actions on regulatory reform and tax relief are creating new economic opportunities, particularly when it comes to energy and coal.
The attorney general also said the Trump administration has been focusing on the opioid epidemic, one of the biggest problems in West Virginia, like a “laser beam.” He said working with federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration has been a big help after years of being “stonewalled by Obama.”
Gov. Jim Justice also made remarks, mentioned that he considered Trump and his family personal friends.
“What he has done for our state thus far has impacted our state in so many ways,” Justice said.
Justice said when he ran for governor, he repeatedly said he was tired of West Virginia being 50th, but the Mountain State now is “first in so many ways.”
Video below shows the president when he arrived Thursday in West Virginia.
Video below shows the president as he left to head to West Virginia.