Hillary Clinton's image, liberal taunts propel professional wrestler to red state infamy

Elizabeth Llorente

She may have been KO'd in her prize fight against The Donald, but Hillary Clinton is still in the ring.

Sort of.

Thanks to a professional wrestler known as "Progressive Liberal" who wears a T-shirt with photos of Hillary's face on it, the former secretary of state, senator and first lady -- or at least her image -- is drawing big-time attention in some of the nation's reddest of red states.

Meet Daniel Harnsberger, a Virginia real estate agent by day, who represents Appalachian Mountain Wrestling and goes by the stage name of Daniel Richards. “The Progressive Liberal,” a moniker printed on the back of his trunks, routinely taunts audiences in conservative states by denouncing country music and telling the crowd that they are uneducated and backward.

“I understand now why you all identify with country music,” he says to a crowd at an Appalachian event. “It’s slow and simple and it’s boring, just like each and every one of you.”

The crowds appear to relish Richards’ bravado and effrontery because it lets them give as good as they get from him.

“I’m having a great time, I’m enjoying it,” says the wrestler-political activist-provocateur to Fox News. “There’s an entertainment aspect to me” about weaving political statements taking shots at conservatives into his wrestling performances.

Richards is quick to note that his schtick is no show – he really believes what he says about Donald Trump, about Republicans favoring the rich, and about people in red states being backward.

“I believe what I believe and no one is going to tell me any different,” Richards says. “The right-wing do not pay attention to details they’re not interested, or to listening to opinions different from their own.”

But it’s not just the right, it’s also the left that turns a deaf ear to ideas and views that contradict theirs, he notes.

“That’s the biggest problem in today in the country,” he said of the polarization.

It all started a few years ago, when the coordinator of a wrestling event encouraged him to play the bad guy, and he decided to taunt the audience politically.

“After Trump’s candidacy in 2015, I had the opportunity to incorporate it. My message is this, Republican policies are not working for you guys, and yet they continue to vote red. Kentucky is a poor state.”

Richards, who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont lawmaker, in the Democratic primaries, and for Hillary Clinton in the general election, says he’s up for his crowds' push-back.

“You have to be unapologetic about who you are and what you believe in --don’t be wishy washy,” he said.

Republicans stick firmly to their beliefs, and he wishes Democrats would do the same.

“I’m venting people‘s frustrations, I’m an outlet for them,” he said. “People who lean left can relate to me, I’m speaking the things they’d like to say.”

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.