How were we to know? That has become a popular line among Democrats running for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in West Virginia. Once staunch supporters of President Barack Obama, they now say they'll fight him tooth and nail on his plan to destroy the coal industry.
Come on, now. Do we the voters look that stupid?
Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., has opposed Obama's war on coal since the beginning. That's part of the reason she's a strong favorite to beat her Democrat opponent, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Two recent public opinion polls show Capito with a lead of nine to 11 points over Tennant (49-38 in the May 27 West Virginia Poll and 48-39 in the May 19 Rasmussen Reports poll).
Nowadays, Tennant has this to say: "I will fight President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency and anyone else who tries to undermine West Virginia coal jobs."
Sounds a bit strange coming from Tennant, who was an Obama delegate at the 2012 Democrat National Convention. In 2008, she campaigned vigorously for him.
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., also has fought the White House - sometimes successfully - to stop its multi-front war on coal. McKinley, of Wheeling, represents the First Congressional District.
His Democrat opponent, former state Auditor Glen B. Gainer III, formally endorsed Obama in 2008. On a side note, Gainer said one reason he backed Obama was that, "West Virginians understand the critical need for highway funds for our bridges and mountain roads." Wonder where that one derailed?
As recently as June 2012, Gainer was downplaying the assault on coal. "I feel certain we're going to utilize coal to generate electricity for many years to come," he said, adding, "but we do have some challenges with that."
In the state's Second Congressional District, Republican candidate Alex Mooney has made his stance on coal clear. His advantage is he doesn't have history to overcome. His Democrat opponent, Nick Casey, does.
As state Democrat Party chairman in 2008, Casey played a substantial role in putting Obama in the White House. Now, he pronounces himself "disappointed" in the president.
In other words, how was Casey to know where Obama was headed?
Even more clear is the situation in the Third Congressional District. There, Republican Evan Jenkins is the favorite against incumbent Nick Rahall - who actually voted in favor of some of the early White House initiatives against coal.
Again, however, here's the thing: Either these so-called seasoned politicians weren't paying attention in 2008 or they hope we'll accept their new denunciations of Obama at face value.
Long before he became president, Obama's hatred for coal was clear.
Obama's comment in San Francisco, while he was running for president in 2008, was reported widely at the time. "If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them," he said in explaining his policy. And, he added, "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."
In 2008 - in Obama's home state - Illinois Coal Association President Phil Gonet said that while a senator, Obama's actions could not "be seen as supportive of coal."
As far as his assurances he preferred developing clean-coal technology to shutting down coal-fired power plants, his actions didn't match his words. Almost immediately after becoming president, Obama began slashing coal research funding.
That, after telling Ohioans in 2008, "I want to spend $15 billion a year - $15 billion, that's with a 'b' - on technologies to develop clean coal ... ."
Tennant, Gainer, Casey and Rahall didn't notice all of this?
West Virginia voters - who didn't trust him in 2008 or 2012 - aren't going to buy it. Many of them will be asking themselves why they should vote for Democrat candidates who were either incredibly gullible regarding Obama - or knew all along what he had in mind.
Mike Myer is executive editor of The Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org