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Campaign Energy Messages Differ; Policies Not So Much Campaign Energy Messages Differ; Policies Not So Much

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Politics / CAMPAIGN 2012

Campaign Energy Messages Differ; Policies Not So Much

Mitt Romney holds a news conference outside the Solyndra manufacturing facility.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

photo of Amy Harder
May 31, 2012

For more than a month now, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has repeatedly referred to the new twist in the GOP’s energy message, saying President Obama’s “all of the above” strategy means he only supports above-ground power sources—not oil, natural gas, and coal.

(RELATED: Romney Visits Solyndra)

“He says he’s for all of the above when it comes to energy,” Romney said this week while visiting Craig, Colo., a town identified by tea party groups as having been crushed by Obama’s environmental agenda against coal-fired energy. “I finally figured out what he means. He’s for all the sources of energy that come from above the ground and not for the things that come from below the ground.”

 

Romney’s messaging on energy was undermined, though, by the fact that Craig, a mining town that is home to one of Colorado’s biggest coal-fired power plants, has seen energy jobs increasing in the past year.

(PICTURES: Comparing Obama's and Romney's Energy Policies)

The White House was quick to point out the disconnect, with spokeswoman Lis Smith reiterating the Obama campaign’s oft-repeated statistics on recent energy growth. “Domestic oil production is at an eight-year high, our dependence on foreign oil is at a 16-year low, renewable energy production has nearly doubled, and natural-gas production has increased every year under President Obama to an all-time high,” Smith said.

Whether the data is inflated or not, the message that may be coming across most to voters is that there really isn’t much difference between Obama’s policies and those likely to be pursued in a Romney administration.

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney often sounded very much like Obama does today. In February 2003, Romney stood in front of a coal plant and touted its closure in defense of public health.

“I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people,” he said, in a video now posted online by the environmental magazine Grist. “That plant kills people, and PG&E has been given notice to have it cleaned up by 2004, and they have thumbed their nose up at the people of Massachusetts.”

But only a month ago in Pennsylvania, Romney sang a different tune with the new twist on Obama’s “all of the above” approach.

“How in the world the president says, as he did the other day, he’s for ‘all of the above’ when it comes to energy?” Romney said at a campaign event. “I couldn’t figure that out given his policies. And then it struck me: He’s for all the sources of energy that come from above the ground--wind and solar. He just doesn’t like the things that come from below the ground.”

Romney tried a different tack on energy Thursday, visiting the California headquarters of Solyndra, the solar manufacturer made infamous by receiving a $535-million loan guarantee from the Obama administration in 2009 before going bankrupt last September.

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