WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS -- U.S. Senate candidate John Raese will speak at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting after all.
A day after saying he had been denied a chance to speak at the meeting by state Chamber President Steve Roberts, Raese's campaign issued a press release Wednesday afternoon just as the meeting began at The Greenbrier.
Raese said his speech Friday on the final day of the three-day event may be the most important one in his 28-year political career, citing what he calls the "absolutely crucial election year of 2012."
"Those of us who like American political history know that, while each Presidential election year is important, some years are very important," Raese said in the release. "I honestly can't remember a year with more potential consequences, pro and con, than the one we are in right now.
"The future of our country, its economy, and our way of life really does depend on what happens at the ballot box this November. That's why I've been out criss-crossing the state almost daily since January, talking with people about what the situation is under President Obama--and what we can do about it together."
Raese said his speech will be directed to the state business community and those looking for jobs.
"Obviously, I'm speaking at the Chamber's Business Summit, so I'm going to be speaking as one West Virginia business person to another there," Raese said. "Everyone in that room knows that the Obama Administration has been no friend to West Virginia's business community. I've never seen anything quite like it.
"On one hand, you have coal operators, even those with clean environmental records, having great difficulty getting a new permit, forcing them to lay off their workers. That's about the worst news a coal mining family can hear as their kids go back to school. It's devastating whole communities, so you're forced to ask, "Where is the leadership for these West Virginians?
"But on the other hand, our small businesses across the state are only now coming to grips with what the Obamacare mandate means to them. When you have to start paying about $1,000 per month, per employee more than what you did before Obamacare, it's a brutal wakeup call. We're in a protracted recession! The cost of Obamacare on our small businesses could be the knockout blow for many of them."
On Tuesday, Roberts said the Chamber typically doesn't invite politicians to speak at the meeting. Instead, they usually allow anyone running for certain offices who approaches them about speaking to do so. Roberts also noted that Raese announced in April that he would not speak to the Chamber.