"It's time for him to support us": Coal miners look to Trump to fulfill promises

Miners on Trump
Miners on Trump 02:18

They're worried about a lot of things in the coal mines of western Pennsylvania. But how President Trump is doing at 100 days just isn't one of them.

Brian Thompson has spent 20 years in the mines. Tim Hroblak spent 39 years before retiring five years ago.

"Rome wasn't built in a day you know," Hroblak said. "It's a process, you have to see how things go."

Tim Hroblak CBS News

"Everybody wants to cut him down; it's only been a hundred days," Thompson said.

Brian Thompson CBS News

Mr. Trump expressed his love for the miners on the campaign trail.

"I love the miners, and we're going to put the miners back to work OK," Mr. Trump said at one campaign rally.

At another rally, Mr. Trump exclaimed: "And for those miners, get ready because you're going to be working your asses off, all right."

But the candidate who spoke so forcefully about saving their jobs is a president whose support there remains strong.

We asked Hroblak about the protests and low poll numbers for Mr. Trump and whether those are just "noise" to him.

"I mean that kinda stuff won't keep me up at night. If I lose my health insurance, that will keep me up at night," Hroblak said.

Pennsylvania voters 03:18

With health insurance that is where some real cracks are forming. The federal fund that guarantees union miners their health insurance and pension benefits will soon be empty. If nothing is done by Sunday, 22,000 retired miners and their families could lose those health benefits.

That the president has yet to fix this has miners Tony Burnsak and Randy Kasunic reconsidering their support.

"He let us down," Burnsak said.

"He promised in this area -- West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio -- that he would take care of the coal miners. He took care of the coal companies," Burnsak said. "But he hasn't done nothing for the miners yet."

"You hear a little bit of what's going on in Congress, but as far as Trump he's pretty much been silent," Kasunic said.

CBS News' Jim Axelrod with Tony Burnsak, right, and Randy Kasunic, left CBS News

And if Mr. Trump doesn't deliver for them soon they may stop delivering for him.

"We supported him. Now it's time for him to support us ... This is a life and death issue," Hroblak said. "This isn't like so I can go buy a new fishing boat. No, this is life and death."

Mr. Trump blamed the Democrats for the holdup. And while no one's making any promises, the miners' best chance may lie with being included in the funding extension Congress is expected to pass to keep the government running.

  • Jim Axelrod
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    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning" and other CBS News broadcasts.