While it was hard to tell amid the flurry of sharp elbows being thrown at the latest installment of the presidential debates last night and the media’s swooning over the “lowbrow” tone of event, there were actually a few policy questions asked and answered. One of the questions I highlighted during our live blog dealt with how the candidates would deal with jobs in the energy industry while remaining “environmentally friendly.” Trump jumped all over Clinton on that one, reminding everyone that the former Secretary of State had previously promised to put coal miners out of work. Clinton, without interruption or challenge from the moderators, broke into a flat out lie, claiming to be “the only candidate who had a plan” to help the coal miners.
The Associated Press “fact checkers” almost immediately tried to rush to Clinton’s defense. (McClatchy DC, emphasis added)
DONALD TRUMP: “Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business … The (Environmental Protection Agency) is putting our energy companies out of business.”
THE FACTS: Coal companies have been battered by the rise of natural gas production more than by Obama administration regulations — although those have not helped.
A string of major coal companies has filed for bankruptcy in recent years, and layoffs and cutbacks have spread economic suffering through coal country. But despite Trump’s claims about energy companies going out of business, these are boom times for natural gas extraction, mostly due to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
As for Clinton, she has said that a shift away from coal and fossil fuels is putting miners out of business, though Trump and others have sought to construe her words to mean she herself wants to put miners out of business. In fact she argues she has a policy to try to put out-of-work miners back to work and bring economic opportunity back into coal country.
The AP “fact checkers” should be particularly embarrassed to have this item sitting out there with their name attached to it. Unfortunately for them, Clinton’s claims were made on stage with the cameras rolling and this very brief video of her contradictory statements is helpfully provided by the RNC. It’s less than fifteen seconds long, so let’s take a look.
CLINTON LAST NIGHT: That’s why I’m the only candidate from the very beginning of this campaign who had a plan to help us revitalize coal country.
CLINTON IN MARCH OF THIS YEAR: We’re gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.
Despite the fact that Martha Raddatz (who had Barack Obama as a guest at her wedding) broke into one of Donald Trump’s answers at 10:10 last night to argue with him about military strategy in the Middle East, neither she nor Anderson Cooper saw fit to so much as ask her a follow-up question about her previous claims regarding coal jobs.
While we’re on the subject of Hillary being able to make these claims without interruption, let’s revisit that whole “interrupting” question. The GOP War Room was diligently keeping track of how many times the moderators interrupted the answers of each candidate last night. Guess how that worked out?
Interruptions Of Clinton: 12
Interruptions Of Trump: 26
The more I look at the results this morning, the more I find it amazing that Trump was able to perform as well as he did. But this moment in particular was a classic example of Hillary Clinton tossing out lies to suit her situational needs and not being called on it.