West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) said that any president would be welcome in the state, except “maybe not Barack Obama,” Wednesday while discussing his bid to host the Republican National Convention.
He stepped out of the briefing at one point to take a call with President Donald Trump, to whom he offered the state as a base for the convention. Trump said Tuesday that the party is being “forced” to find another city instead of Charlotte, North Carolina to host, blaming Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) restrictions in place to quell the coronavirus pandemic.
“I wanted him to always know just how welcome he is in West Virginia,” Justice said. “And any president, you know. And we should absolutely welcome all — maybe not Barack Obama — but nevertheless, we’ll welcome any president,” he added, laughing.
Justice added that Trump implied that he was going to go with another state to host the convention, saying that he knew even while he was pitching the idea that West Virginia was a “giant long shot.”
The governor tried to clean up his comment about Obama with a statement after the briefing, saying that his remark was in reference to the former president’s “War on Coal” while he was in office.
“Everyone knows that President Obama made it a specific strategy to destroy our coal industry and power plants which, for more than a century, had been the lifeblood of West Virginia’s economy,” he said, adding that it brought West Virginians “to our knees.”
“I want to love everybody, and by that, I mean everybody, including President Obama,” he continued. “But, at the end of the day, what happened to West Virginia during his time in the Oval Office will take us decades and decades to recover from, if ever.”
Justice isn’t the only one pitching his state as the new host for the RNC. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), one of Trump’s most persistent adulators, tweeted that he hoped the President would keep “Georgia on his mind” when selecting the new spot.