BEALLSVILLE, Ohio - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes a strong coal industry is key to a strong America.
During a campaign rally Tuesday at American Energy Corp.'s Century Mine, Romney said his administration's energy policy would differ from that of President Barack Obama. Romney said his administration would include coal, natural gas, oil, renewables and nuclear as part of an all-in energy portfolio.
"We have 250 years of coal, why in the heck wouldn't we use it?" Romney told a crowd of more than 2,000 coal miners and their families.
Obama, in contrast, supports an "all of the above" approach to energy, Romney added, which he said means the president supports only those energy resources that can be found above ground, such as wind and solar.
Romney said Obama also kept two campaign promises from 2008: one, that consumer energy bills would increase during his administration, and two, that he would make it too expensive to build a new coal-fired power plant.
The Obama administration is waging a war on coal, Romney said.
Photo by J.W. Johnson Jr.
Coal miners employed by Murray Energy Corp. stand behind Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during his campaign stop at Murray’s Century Mine at Beallsville. Romney told attendees he believes coal is an important part of America’s energy future.
Obama said "if he was elected president - and his policies got put in place - the cost of energy would skyrocket," Romney said. "That's one he's kept. He also said you could go out and build a new coal plant if you want, but if you do you will go bankrupt. That's another promise he's intent on keeping.
"His vice president (Joe Biden) said coal is more dangerous than terrorists. Can you imagine that? This tells you precisely what he actually feels and what he's done. And his policies over the last three and a half years have put in place the very vision he had when he was running for office. But now he wants to get re-elected. And he knows to do so, he's got to win Ohio," he said.
And to win Ohio, Obama must win East Ohio, Romney continued.
"He's got to get the votes of the people in these communities all around us here," Romney said. "You're not going to let that happen because you're going to keep our jobs. You're going to keep Ohio strong, and bring back America.
"This is the time for truth. If you don't believe in coal, if you don't believe in energy independence for America - just say it. If you think the whole answer to our energy problems is wind and solar - say that.
"It's time to tell the people of America what you believe, and I want to tell Americans the truth about what I stand for and what I'll do. And I'm going to contrast that with our president because we would take America in different directions."
Obama wants America "to be more and more like Europe," Romney said.
"I don't think Europe works in Europe," he noted. "I want to make America more like America."
Obama has said success in America can be measured by how many people have jobs, Romney said. He then cited current estimates that 23 million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed.
"Many also say you measure progress by whether people are able have a job that can pay for a mortgage," Romney said. "We've had 8.5 million homes foreclosed on, and home values are down. In some communities, if major employers leave, there is no market whatsoever for their homes."
Romney also said the average income in America is on the decline.
"Guess what's happened in the past three and a half years?" Romney asked. "The average income of the American family has gone down by $4,000 a year. At the same time, health care costs are up, gasoline prices are up, utility bills are up.
"As a result of this, the people in this community and in this nation - and middle-class Americans - are having a tough time making ends meet."
During his speech, Romney said there are five things he will seek to do as president - take full advantage of the nation's energy resources; improve public education opportunities; push for trade laws that benefit America; stop spending federal dollars "faster than they come in;" and champion small businesses.
Romney added he wants to repeal the health care reform legislation passed under Obama and also "get the government out of the health care business."