Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign… (David Kohl / AP Photo )
PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — As he campaigned Saturday near the convergence of three coal-producing states, Mitt Romney pressed his domestic energy plan, saying the nation needs to increase production for its security and its economy.
“We’re going to take full advantage of our oil, our coal, our natural gas, our nuclear, our renewable,” he told about 3,500 supporters gathered in the college green at Shawnee State University. “We have 250 years of coal. It can be burned cleanly. This president when he was running for office said that if you want to build a new coal plant you can, but if you do, you’ll go bankrupt. That tells you something about his philosophy. Mine is this: we have a lot of coal, we’re going to use it. We’re going to keep those jobs, we’re going to keep America energy secure.”
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Portsmouth sits on the Ohio River across from Kentucky, and is close to West Virginia. These three states produce about one-quarter of the nation’s coal. The town is also close to two facilities related to the nuclear industry -- a plant in Piketon that previously produced enriched uranium for military weapons and nuclear power plants, and a public-private partnership that is trying to build centrifuges for commercial uranium production. In June, President Obama’s administration announced it was spending $280 million on research at the latter, which is expected to create 1,000 jobs in southern Ohio.
“I know you’re particularly aware of nuclear as well and recognize America must have a reliable source of domestically produced uranium, enriched uranium,” he said. “We need to make sure that Piketon has the most modern technology so that we can provide that source of security for our great country.”
Romney has been spending considerable time in Ohio in recent days, and is wrapping up a two-day bus tour on Saturday. He said Obama is running a campaign about “small things,” and that if Obama were reelected, that would be a win for the “status quo,” and would mean the continuation of policies that have left tens of millions without jobs and reliant on food stamps.
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“We’re going to take back this country. I need your help. Get out and vote!” Romney said. “We need to be sure we take back America and keep this land the hope of the Earth. I’m counting on you Portsmouth. Let’s make it happen.”
The Obama campaign said Romney fails to grasp the nation’s needs.
“Mitt Romney may think that improving economic security for the middle class, protecting a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, and strengthening Medicare are ‘small things’, but that’s what President Obama is fighting for,” said spokeswoman Lis Smith. “You see, Mitt Romney thinks these are ‘small things’ because he just doesn’t get it.”
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Romney was introduced by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who plays Obama during Romney’s debate preparations, including one Saturday morning. Romney and Obama will meet up for their second face-to-face contest Tuesday.
“Now, when you talk to people, what you’ll find is they’re really listening these days, aren’t they. And partly it’s because we’ve had two terrific debates,” Portman said. “… And folks, we’re gonna have another great debate next week. You know why? We’ve got the right policies to turn this thing around, to help middle-class jobs come back to Ohio and Scioto County, and Mitt Romney’s going to do it again – he’s gonna tell it like it is. He’s gonna correct the record and then he’s gonna tell America there is a better way forward.”