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Story highlights

Hillary Clinton's campaign played defense Monday, after she said Sunday during a CNN town hall that her clean energy plan would shut down "a lot" of coal companies

accused Republicans of trying to "twist Hillary Clinton's words" to suggest she showed a disregard for coal workers and their livelihoods

(CNN) —  

Hillary Clinton’s campaign played defense Monday, after she said Sunday during a CNN town hall that her clean energy plan would shut down “a lot” of coal companies.

Brian Fallon, Clinton’s press secretary, accused Republicans of trying to “twist Hillary Clinton’s words” to suggest she showed a disregard for coal workers and their livelihoods.

“Obviously she was making the exact opposite point: that we have to take proactive steps to make sure coal workers, their families and their communities get not just the benefits they’ve earned, but also the future they deserve,” said Fallon.

Clinton said Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, that her “clean, renewable energy” plan was going to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Clinton added that she was going to “make clear that we don’t want to forget these people” and touted her plan to spend federal dollars on rebuilding coal country.

Republicans seized on the comments, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell subtly knocking Clinton Monday morning for “boasting” about hurting coal miners.

“What they want is to provide for their families, but here’s how more Democrats seem to view these hard-working Americans and their families: just statistics, just the cost of doing business, just obstacles to their ideology,” said McConnell, a Kentucky senator. “This is callous. It is wrong. And it underlines the need to stand up for hard-working, middle-class coal families.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also tweeted that Clinton was joining President Barack Obama’s “war on coal and Kentucky.”

The comment was also picked up by local media in Kentucky and other coal states.

Clinton is currently locked in a tight battle with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for five states that will vote on Tuesday.

Her campaign is confident in their standing in Florida and North Carolina, but are far less confident in how their campaigns in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

Coal could be a key issue in Ohio, where polls show Clinton with a double digit lead. The state’s Southeastern region is reliant on coal and Clinton’s campaign is hoping that her plan to spend heavily in those areas will sway them he way. Clinton performed well in Virginia’s Western coal counties earlier this month.

“I firmly believe that if you spent your life keeping the lights on for our country, we can’t leave you in the dark,” Clinton said in a statement that touted her coal plan on Monday.

“We need to support our coal miners, their families, and their communities,” Clinton added. “Coal will remain a part of the energy mix for years to come, and we have a shared responsibility to ensure that coal communities receive the benefits they have earned – and can build the future they deserve.”