RACINE - For those tired of talk about this November's presidential election, Monday's United Mine Workers of America Labor Day Celebration would have made a perfect getaway.
The annual celebration, held at John Slack Memorial Park, is always a prime spot to rub elbows with top Democratic politicians.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, state Treasurer John Perdue, state Auditor Glen Gainer, state Supreme Court candidate Tish Chafin and U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall all took the stage Monday to thank union members for their hard work and ask for their support this fall.
None of them mentioned President Barack Obama's re-election campaign against Republican contender Mitt Romney.
Only one speaker, state delegate Larry Barker, D-Boone, mentioned the president at all. And it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement.
"I can't control the price of coal," Barker told the crowd. "I can't control the president and I can't control the Congress. I wish I could."
Barker is in the middle of a difficult re-election campaign against Republican Josh Nelson, a coal miner who has accused the incumbent of failing to protect coal jobs. Nelson and his supporters also attended Monday's event.
State Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the president, who is immensely unpopular in the coalfields. A poll last week found Romney had a 14-point lead over Obama in this state.
Tomblin, Rahall and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will not attend this week's Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. And while Rahall has endorsed Obama, Tomblin and Manchin are remaining mum on their presidential picks.
Several speakers did allude to the federal Environmental Protection Agency's "war on coal." Tomblin told attendees he would continue to fight the EPA's tight restrictions on surface mining.
"I will not stand by and let them threaten our jobs. I'll fight to the very end," he said.
Rahall, the last speaker to take the stage Monday, told the dwindling crowd there was also a "war on our coal miners."
He urged voters to beware of Republican candidates.
"They'll pretend they're Friends of Coal this year. Don't buy that malarkey. They've got a hidden agenda, and they'll turn their backs on the coal miners in a heartbeat," he said.
Retired coal miner Harold Cremeans, 60, of Bloomingrose, said he doesn't plan to vote for Romney or Obama this November.