HOPKINSVILLE: Presidential primaries in Oregon and Kentucky on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) will give Hillary Clinton a chance to bolster her almost insurmountable delegate lead over Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, who has vowed to slog on despite long odds. Sanders is gunning for victory in the Bluegrass State, building on his win last week in neighboring West Virginia as he battles to keep his long-shot nomination bid alive. West Virginia and Kentucky are linked to coal, as is much of Appalachia — the largely white, long-struggling eastern US region where many feel they have been given the cold shoulder in the lukewarm recovery from the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
The northwest state of Oregon on Tuesday also holds its Democratic and Republican primaries, where limited polling has indicated Clinton is ahead. Sanders, however, leads in Kentucky. Clinton sees Kentucky as an opportunity to appeal to a demographic that has consistently snubbed her: working-class white men. No Democratic presidential candidate has won in the state since 1980 except for her husband Bill Clinton.
On Sunday the former first lady appeared to indicate he would play a role in her administration if she were elected, promising to put him “in charge of revitalizing the economy.” And during a stop Monday at a diner in Paducah, a city in southwestern Kentucky, she reasserted that he would be her ally in office. “I’ve already told my husband that if I’m so fortunate enough to be president and he will be the first gentleman, I’ll expect him to go to work… to get incomes rising.” Sanders has also been investing time in Kentucky. He was in Paducah on Sunday and Bowling Green Monday, holding much bigger rallies — each more than 2,000 people.
The Clintons have struggled to contain the damage from comments Hillary made in March, when she said she expected to “put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.” She made the comment during a speech on renewable energy but the soundbite stung many in Appalachia. In Fort Mitchell at the weekend she emphasized her determination to help coal country, saying: “We can’t and we must not walk away from them.” Clinton made three stops in Kentucky on Sunday (Monday in Manila) and another for Monday (Tuesday in Manila).