Invoking his coal-miner cred, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is trying to make sure the 11th-hour run by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to win Pennsylvania falls flat.
Trumka, who is a former coal miner and former president of the United Mine Workers of America, slammed Romney's support for coal at a rally Monday in Pittsburgh, an area rich in coal-mining that stretches into Eastern Ohio, the most sought-after presidential battleground state.
"Mitt Romney says there's a war on coal, and he's right. But it's a war he started in Massachusetts when he sued the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] to force new regulations to kill coal jobs," Trumka said at the rally where former President Bill Clinton also appeared. "Today, Mitt Romney has campaigned against those same exact regulations and he blames them on President Obama. But we know the truth."
Trumka has stepped up its criticism of Romney on the coal issue in recent weeks. The Ohio newspaper Herald Star last week published an op-ed by Trumka where he charges Romney is "all wrong about coal industry."
The race to win Ohio is still too close to call, according to a poll published Monday by the University of Cincinnati. Obama has a slight edge over Romney in Pennsylvania, but the former Massachusetts governor is making a last-ditch effort to win that state and even campaigned there on Sunday.
Given both races are so tight, the relatively low number of coal-mining jobs in the two states could prove pivotal. According to 2011 data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio has 2,570 coal-mining jobs and Pennsylvania has 8,454.
Aside from Trumka, the coal industry has not supported Obama largely because he has implemented rules that are expected to over time reduce coal use in the country. The UMWA isn't endorsing either candidate this year, and major coal producers have opted to support Romney, who has vowed to slow down EPA rules.