Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump returned to Virginia for a pair of events in and around Abingdon on Wednesday.
A day after sparking a fresh and unwanted campaign controversy with comments about the Second Amendment, Trump appeared subdued Wednesday. Accusing Democrat Hillary Clinton of wanting to close coal mines, he quizzed a group of mining executives and foremen about whether government rules were choking their industry.
“You’ve been put in an impossible position, as far as mines are concerned,” Trump said, with little of the bombast his supporters have come to expect. In a nod to environmental concerns that Clinton has been voicing, Trump added: “We want clean water. We want clear air, obviously. We also want jobs.”
Trump’s intimate discussion with miners at an industrial garage was a rare departure from the massive rallies and speeches that have characterized his campaign. He returned to the rally setting shortly after in nearby Abingdon and lamented that coal workers don’t vote in larger numbers.
“You just don’t vote. I think it’s because you’ve been beaten so badly as an industry,” Trump said. But, he said, “you have absolutely nothing to lose.”
Many of those on stage at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon wore miners’ hard hats and carried signs that said “Trump Digs Coal.”
“I know you’re discouraged,” Trump said near the end of his remarks, which lasted nearly an hour. “Give it one more chance.
“If you’re not feeling good, if you’re so sick you can’t move, if your wife got angry at you and you don’t want to get out of the house ... say ‘I’m sorry, I’m just sorry Charlotte, I’m going out to vote for Trump.’ ”
Trump also asserted that Virginia has lost 1 in 3 manufacturing jobs since President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, said on Twitter on Wednesday that “We can be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century” and that Trump’s economic plan would amount to “1. Lower wages 2. Fewer jobs 3. More debt 4. Tax breaks for the 0.1%.”
Trump is giving no indication that he thinks Clinton’s addition of Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., as her vice presidential running mate has taken Virginia off the board for him.
The Abingdon event was Trump’s third campaign stop in Virginia since Kaine joined the Democratic ticket. Trump said his campaign is “pretty close in Virginia,” although “we haven’t spent anything yet” on ads. Trump and his vice presidential choice, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, held a town hall meeting in Roanoke on July 25. Trump held a rally at a Loudoun County high school Aug. 2. Pence made solo campaign stops Aug. 4 in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Trump suggested that Kaine will be a negative for Clinton in Virginia because, in Trump’s words, Kaine’s governorship from 2006 to 2010 was “a disaster.”
“I actually think he’s going to be a negative, not a positive,” Trump said of Kaine.
Trump cited Kaine’s effort at the beginning of his tenure to raise $1 billion a year for transportation by raising a mix of taxes and fees. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful.
Trump initially said that Kaine “proposed” the tax increase at the outset of his governorship. Trump later incorrectly said that Kaine “raised your taxes by $4 billion” in his first week on the job.
Trump also noted that Virginia’s unemployment rate increased during Kaine’s term. Kaine governed Virginia during the Great Recession.
Trump: Media made story into big deal
Trump briefly alluded to the controversy over his own comments Tuesday in North Carolina in which he suggested supporters of the Second Amendment could find a way to stop Clinton if she won the presidential election and started picking judges.
Trump had said in North Carolina: “By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is.”
Opponents — Democrats and some Republicans — accused Trump of appearing to countenance or encourage violence against his opponent.
Trump later blamed the media for inflaming the controversy and said he had meant that supporters of gun rights should counter Clinton by going to the polls. He continued to blame the media for the controversy Wednesday in Abingdon.
“A big part of the rigged system is the press itself,” Trump said. “They can take a little story that isn’t a story and make it into a big deal. Happens so much.
“And speaking of that, remember this: We have so many things that we have to protect in this country. We have to protect our Second Amendment, which is under siege,” Trump said, prompting a standing ovation.
Trump also accused Clinton of “pay for play” when she served as Secretary of State. He charged that newly released emails show big donors to the Clinton Foundation got favorable treatment.
Trump said the nation has lost more than 200,000 mining jobs since 2014. He also said coal is important to national security.
“If I get in, this is what it is,” Trump said, holding up a “Trump Digs Coal” sign.
Some of his supporters worry Trump’s lack of a filter is hurting his White House chances, a concern they say has only grown in recent weeks.
“You’d think it would be pretty simple for a grown man to keep his mouth shut sometimes,” said Seth Walls, 18, a landscaper from Whitetop, Virginia, who attended his first Trump rally Wednesday. “These Twitter rants and things he does in the media, I definitely think it’s hurting him.”
But Lisa Bolling, an elementary school teacher from Abingdon who attended Trump’s event, said his many stumbles can only help him.
“I really don’t think it will affect his chances, because I think what America’s looking for now is honesty and straightforwardness,” Bolling said. “It’s a refreshing way to speak and do things that he’s bringing to this campaign, and I believe in the long run, it will be beneficial to him.”
Man climbs outside of Trump Tower
Also on Wednesday, a man who wanted an “audience” with Trump spent three hours scaling the glass facade of Trump Tower in New York using large suction cups, climbing as high as the 21st floor before police officers grabbed him and hauled him to safety through an open window.
The climber, later identified by police as a 20-year-old Virginia man, wore a backpack and used a harness and rope stirrups to fasten himself to the side of the 58-story Manhattan skyscraper.
For a long time, the climber played a slow-motion cat-and-mouse game with his would-be rescuers. Officers smashed windows and broke through ventilation ducts in an attempt to block his progress. Officers also lowered themselves toward him using a window washer’s platform.
The man kept his distance by methodically working his way back and forth across the facade and around angled corners.
The chase ended dramatically just after 6:30 p.m.
As a crowd gasped on the street below, two officers leaned far out of a window, grabbed the climber’s arm and harness, and in a flash yanked him from his dangling stirrups. He went through the opening headfirst, his legs pointed skyward.
“I reached out. I took hold of his hand and I said, ‘Sir, would you come with me,’ ” said Detective Christopher Williams, who made the grab.
Police had deployed large, inflated crash pads at the scene, but it was unclear how much protection they would have offered if the climber fell.
A day before the ascent, police said the climber posted a video on YouTube titled, “Message to Mr. Trump (why I climbed your tower).”
“I am an independent researcher seeking a private audience with you to discuss an important matter. I guarantee that it’s in your interest to honor this request,” he said. “Believe me, if my purpose was not significant, I would not risk my life pursuing it. The reason I climbed your tower is to get your attention. If I had sought this via conventional means, I would be much less likely to have success because you are a busy man with many responsibilities.”
New York Police Department Assistant Chief William Aubrey said the man, who was not named by police, told officers the same thing after he was safely inside the building.
“At no time did he express that he wanted to hurt anybody,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.