Ex-con GOP candidate says explosion at his mine that killed dozens 'one of the biggest reasons' to support him
Donald Blankenship (IBT)

West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship, a former mining tycoon who was sent to jail in 2016 for his culpability in the deaths of 29 miners who worked for him, says that voters should back him because of -- not in spite of -- the deadly explosion at his mine.

Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, is a highly controversial candidate in West Virginia, as his flouting of mine safety laws left him legally liable for the deaths of 29 men in a 2010 mine explosion.

When asked by CNN this week what he would say to West Virginia residents who believe that he has "blood on his hands" because of the explosion, Blankenship tried to spin the explosion as a strength of his candidacy.

"The thing I would say to 'em is, Upper Big Branch deadly explosion is one of the biggest reasons they should vote for me if they're, have family members or are involved in the coal industry," he told CNN. "Unlike any other person that I know of, I stood up against the establishment when they falsely claimed that the explosion was caused by the coal miners."

Blankenship has blamed former President Barack Obama for the explosion at his mine and has insisted that he was railroaded by the government when he was convicted and sent to jail for a year.