This is just a casual observation, but I think Sen. Rand Paul is misdiagnosing the problem in several areas:

Paul, during a visit to Northern Kentucky Friday morning, said he will support whoever is the Republican nominee, even if it’s Donald Trump. He said it’s better than supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Paul criticized Clinton’s comments she made while campaigning in Ohio that she will “put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.” Those words will likely reverberate around the state in the next few months and could hurt Clinton.

“I think we never get the candidate we exactly want unless you’re the candidate,” Paul said. “Think about it from this perspective. I’m from Kentucky, and Hillary Clinton recently said she would put coal miners out of business, and she would put coal companies out of business.”

Paul ended the press conference after that and didn’t take followup questions.

People aren’t asking Rand Paul if he’ll endorse Donald Trump because they’d prefer to be the nominee themselves, and they aren’t really suggesting that they’d prefer Sen. Paul, either.

More than that, though, it really doesn’t matter who the next president is as far as the future of the coal industry is concerned. Eleven years ago, we had the same argument over tobacco farming. Mitch McConnell fought hard for the state’s tobacco farmers, getting them generous terms in the final settlement, but he didn’t think the tobacco industry could be saved and preserved.

If McConnell and Paul want to help coal miners, they’ll get serious about helping them achieve a similar transition away from an unhealthy industry. Maybe Clinton will help them out with that.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at