New Romney ad hits Obama on coal, China

In the 2008 election, conservatives cried foul when a months-old interview with the San Francisco Chronicle came to light just hours before the general election in November, in which Barack Obama claimed his energy policy would “necessarily bankrupt” any new coal-fueled power production.  Coal-powered electricity prices would “skyrocket,” Obama promised in January 2008 in quotes that the Chronicle never reported, and oddly never transcribed from its editorial meeting with the then-primary candidate.  John McCain’s campaign had no time to argue on that point, but given the eventual gap in the voting, it might not have made much difference anyway.

Team Romney isn’t letting this one sit on the cutting room floor, however.  In a new 30-second TV spot titled “Bankrupt,” Mitt Romney reminds voters — presumably in Rust Belt states — about Obama’s “war on coal” and just how deeply committed to it he is.  Meanwhile, Obama seems to have no objection while China builds its economy on coal-fueled power:

“President Obama is attacking Mitt Romney because Mitt Romney supports coal miners.”  That’s the underlying message that Romney wants to send with this ad, but he’s also playing the China card nicely, too — which plays well with the same Rust Belt voter bloc.  His campaign sent out this background data on China, coal, and jobs:

China Is The World’s Largest Coal Producer And Consumer And Is Expected To Double Its Coal Consumption In Coming Decades. “China is also the world’s largest top coal producer and consumer and accounted for about half of the global coal consumption, an important factor in world energy-related CO2 emissions. … EIA projects coal’s share of the total energy mix to fall to 59 percent by 2035 due to anticipated higher energy efficiencies and China’s goal to reduce its carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP). However, absolute coal consumption is expected to double over this period, reflecting the large growth in total energy consumption.” (U.S. Energy Information Administration, Accessed 9/25/12)

This ad could be effective in western Virginia (not West Virginia, which Romney should easily win anyway), Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Expect this to go into heavy rotation in those markets.

Team Romney wants to move back to economics, obviously, and is now aiming at the middle and working classes to mine for votes, pun intended.  In my column for The Fiscal Times today, I point out the big lead Romney got in the Politico/GWU Battleground poll among middle-class voters, and why he can win in those demographics:

Despite the sunny talk from Obama on the economy, his recovery has produced the worst post-recession environment for job creation in decades, perhaps going all the way back to the Great Depression.  The economy has added an average of less than 85,000 jobs per month since the June 2009 end of the Great Recession, far less than the roughly 130,000 per month needed just to keep up with population growth, which has produced a 31-year low in the civilian population participation rate.

Food stamp programs have added almost 12 million recipients since the start of the recovery, and poverty has reached its highest level of the American population since Lyndon Johnson began the Great Society.  According to the Census Bureau, there were 3 million more people in poverty in 2011 than in 2009, an increase of 6 percent in the population of the poor. …

Even for those managing to work through the sluggish recovery, the decline hits hard. Investor’s Business Daily reported on an analysis of more Census Bureau data by Sentier Research that shows median household income dropped again in August by 1.1 percent. This measure of income has dropped by 8.2 percent during the Obama administration, with much of the decline occurring after the June 2009 start to the recovery.

Furthermore, the Census Bureau data shows that adjusted median income has now dropped to the lowest level seen since 1997.  While that decline continues, the cost of living continues to increase.  Obama promised that the Affordable Care Act would stop the increase in insurance premiums by “bending the cost curve downward,” but the opposite has been true.  Premiums rose twice as fast as inflation last year at 4.6 percent, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation study.  Gas prices  went through the roof again this year and have remained high even after the end of the summer driving season.  This means that not only are people making less money, they have to spend more just to keep up – creating what IBD calls a “middle-class squeeze” that has only gotten worse during the recovery.

Add in the “skyrocketing” prices of electricity that the war on coal will produce, and that middle-class squeeze becomes a vise-grip around its chest.  Romney needs to cut more ads talking directly into the camera discussing how Obama’s policies will choke off the disposable income of the middle class, and how that will produce even more economic stagnation than we see now.  This is a winning issue, and Romney has a winning presence with the funds to project it.

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