May 19, 2013
Romney, Obama in rare battle over energy policy
Republican Mitt Romney vowed to step up coal production and US President Barack Obama mocked him for opposing a windmill tax credit, in a rare debate over energy policy on the campaign trail.
Romney staked out a pro-coal stance in eastern Ohio, a mountainous region where he must do well to have a chance to win a swing state that went to Obama in 2008.
Appearing with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, whom he passed over as his vice presidential running mate in favor of congressman Paul Ryan, Romney said that if elected he would pursue a policy to take advantage of "all our energy resources."
"We have 250 years of coal. Why the heck wouldn't we use it?" Romney told coal miners wearing hard hats. "By the end of my second term, I make this commitment: We will have North American energy independence. We won't have to buy oil from Venezuela and the Middle East."
Obama took his campaign for re-election to Iowa, a state he won four years ago but which is now flirting with Romney. A big agricultural state, Iowa has enjoyed years of government subsidies for its corn production to make ethanol.
Obama is making a similar case for the state's windmills, saying he supports an extension for tax credits for wind energy manufacturers in Iowa and elsewhere. The tax credits expire at year's end.
In criticizing Romney for opposing the tax credits, Obama appeared to bring up an often-told tale about Romney, that he once put his dog in a container and strapped it to the roof of his car to go on a family vacation.
"During a speech a few months ago, Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: 'You can't drive a car with a windmill on it.' That's what he said about wind power. I wonder if he actually tried that," Obama said.
There was a jarring note on the campaign trail when Vice President Joe Biden told a rally in Danville, Virginia that if elected Romney would cut regulations on banks to the detriment of consumers.