Campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s Kentucky Democratic primary on Sunday, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hinted as to what her husband’s role would be in the couple’s third White House term starting January of 2017.
Clinton told the crowd at a campaign rally in Fort Mitchell, Ky., that Bill would be “in charge of revitalizing the economy,” because “he knows how to do it . . . especially in places like coal country and inner cities and other parts of our country that have really been left out.”
It seems as though the former Secretary is angling for the white working-class vote in economically poor areas which began trending Republican in presidential elections 35 years ago, when Ronald Reagan beat then-President Jimmy Carter in a landslide.
In 2o16, Appalachian coal country and the industrial Midwest is not only decidedly Republican, but overwhelming so for the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Mrs. Clinton last visited the region at the beginning of May, touting her husband’s credentials as a macroeconomic genius to a group in Ashland, Ky.
“I’ve told my husband he’s got to come out of retirement and be in charge of this, because you know, he’s got more ideas a minute than anybody I know,” Clinton said.
Specifically, the former first lady points to her husband’s signing of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program in 2000 as an example of a way to jump-start the economy in depressed areas.
NMTC, which Congress let expire in 2014, was a government-business partnership that incentivized private investment in low-income urban and rural communities through federal tax credits.
For her part, Mrs. Clinton is calling for the re-institution of NMTC as part of a plan to revitalize rural America, and is proposing extensive list of initiatives to help ease coal country’s transition to a modern 21st century economy, including subsidized job training, reforming and improving public assistance programs for sick and retired miners, and funding public-private works projects through the creation of a national infrastructure bank.
Clinton’s coal country campaign seems like somewhat of an anomaly, however, given the current dynamics of national politics. While two states with a significant coal and manufacturing industry are considered toss-ups in 2016 — Pennsylvania and Ohio — most of coal country now votes consistently Republican in presidential elections.
In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton won almost all the hardcore industrial and coal states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, along with now “deep red” West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas.
With Barack Obama’s “war on coal”, and a populist candidate in Donald Trump running on the GOP ticket, it is possible all of those states will be colored bright red on the general election map the night of Nov. 8.
[ABC News] [Politico]