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Romney in Ohio accuses Obama of 'waging war on coal'

BEALLSVILLE, Ohio -- In the heart of Ohio's coal country, Republican Mitt Romney took a decidedly harsher tone toward President Obama’s energy policies Tuesday, accusing the president of “waging war on coal” and hindering job creation at a time when Americans are struggling.

“He talks about how wonderful it is and how we’re adding jobs in the coal industry and producing more coal,” Romney said while flanked by dozens of coal miners in this key battleground state. “How in the world can you go out there and just tell people things that aren’t true?”

The presumptive GOP nominee went on to imply the president would do anything to get re-elected, including telling Ohio voters what they wanted to hear. “He’s got to win eastern Ohio and he’s got to get the votes of the people in these communities all around us here,” Romney told the crowd. “And you’re not going to let that happen.”

Ohio is essential to Romney, and convincing rural voters to turn out in November is an important part of his plan for victory. This is his second bus tour through the Buckeye State this summer, and he has spent a lot of time here since clinching the nomination in April.

Romney repeatedly has called on the campaign trail for an all-encompassing approach to energy – favoring increased coal, oil and gas production, in addition to renewable sources. 

But in a video from 2003 and circulated by Obama’s campaign Tuesday, then-Gov. Romney criticized a coal plant in Salem, Mass.  “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And that plant, that plant kills people,” he said at the time.

When asked by reporters to clarify whether Romney changed his stance on coal energy, a campaign adviser said he didn’t have any specifics on the paste case but said coal is “an important part” of Romney's energy plan.

“I think he’s made very clear where he stands on the position, that he believes that it’s an important part of an all-of-the-above energy policy,” senior adviser Kevin Madden said. “The governor obviously believes that it’s important as part of helping manufacturing and helping grow the economy across the country.”

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