CAMERON - Rep. David McKinley said those living in large urban centers on the east and west coasts just do not understand the issues those in his home state of West Virginia face.
During a Tuesday town hall-style meeting in Cameron, McKinley, R-Wheeling, said he believes the key battle in Washington, D.C., now is not Democrat versus Republican or liberal versus conservative.
Instead, it is urban versus rural.
TOWN HALL FOR McKINLEY — Rep. David McKinley, R-Wheeling, speaks with some of his constituents during a Tuesday town hall-style meeting in Cameron. -- Casey Junkins
"If you mention the term 'septic tank' to someone in downtown Los Angeles, they will look at you like - 'what?'" he said during the meeting, attended by more than 30 Cameron area residents.
McKinley said the Manhattan borough of New York City has 15 members in the House of Representatives, while Los Angeles and its many suburbs have 22 members. In stark contrast, he noted that West Virginia has only three members for the entire state, while some states, including Wyoming and Montana, have just one.
In Congress, each state receives a certain number of House seats, based on the population of that state compared to others. In the Senate, however, every state gets two senators, regardless of population.
McKinley also spoke of how vital he believes the coal industry is to West Virginia and surrounding states, saying that electricity rates will "skyrocket" if President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is able to eliminate coal-fired power plants.
"When you attack our coal industry - when you attack our oil and gas industry - you attack people," he said, noting he keeps a picture of a coal miner displayed prominently in his Washington, D.C., office. "We can't cut our way back to prosperity, and we can't tax our way back to prosperity. The way back to prosperity is to create jobs."
McKinley also said Obama and the Democrats continue to spend too much money, noting he believes there are 11,000 more people getting access to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, more commonly known as food stamps, each day.
"Now, one in seven people in this country are on food stamps," McKinley said.
When an audience member asked him about his gun control stance, McKinley said he believes fully enforcing current laws is the way to go, rather than adopting a series of new laws. He said the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, while tragic and heartbreaking, should not lead to additional gun control laws.
Another guest asked McKinley if he believes former National Security Agency contract worker Edward Snowden - currently on the run from U.S. authorities who seek to charge him with espionage - should be considered a hero or a villain for telling a foreign media outlet how the NSA has been collecting data on Americans' phone activity. McKinley said he believes Snowden broke the law by revealing the information, but he added he does not yet know how U.S. authorities should deal with Snowden.