West Virginia governor says he’d welcome any former president but Obama

A governor says he was joking when he said he wouldn't welcome the 44th president

Barack Obama, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (Getty Images)

As cities around the nation continue to grapple with mostly peaceful and a few violent protests, most governors have had their hands full trying to balance their response. Not so with the West Virginia governor Jim Justice.

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The Republican governor was talking to reporters about his willingness to host lthe Republican National Convention if it was relocated from Charlotte, North Carolina. The governor, who had been on a call with President Trump, found out his state wasn’t in the running but said West Virginia was open to any former president…except the 44th one.

“I wanted him to know just how welcome he is in West Virginia, and any president, we should absolutely welcome…except maybe Barack Obama,” Justice said, laughing. “But nevertheless, we’ll welcome any president.”


Justice, reports Bloomberg, is a billionaire with no previous political experience. As he made his money in coal and agriculture, he says he comments, made in just have more to do with Obama’s ‘war on coal’ and its impact on West Virginia, which is one of the leading states for coal mining.

“I want to love everybody, and by that, I mean everybody, including President Obama,” Justice said in the statement. “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.”

Coal as a heating source has fallen out of favor in recent years, losing ground to cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources. 2018 marked the lowest coal consumption in 39 years, according to Climatenexus.org. But contrary to Justice’s statement, the site reports that coal plant closings in Trump’s first two years were more than the number that closed during the first five years of Obama’s time in the White House.

Justice, according to Bloomberg, was also criticized for referring to a local girl’s basketball team of mostly Black players ‘a bunch of thugs,’ a few months ago.

His response to that was “First of all, I would tell them that I’m really sorry if I’ve done anything that has offended them. But secondly, I would just say this, Barack Obama used that term,” he told WCHS-TV days after.

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In 2016, Justice won the governor’s race as a Democrat, but told his constituents he had switched parties at a Trump rally in the first year of taking office.

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