By Marc Kovac
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney promised supporters in southeastern Ohio coal country that he would do everything in his power to ensure them “good jobs and good wages.”
Standing in front of a group of miners decked out in hard hats and coveralls, Romney also offered commitments to Ohio’s coal industry, to the energy produced by coal production in Ohio and other states and to a future of independence from overseas oil.
“I’m for all-of-the-above, whether it comes from above the ground or below the ground,” Romney said Tuesday. “We’re going to take advantage of our energy resources to save your jobs, create more jobs. And, by the way, when we use our plentiful energy resources ... you’re going to see manufacturing come back to America.”
He added, “By the end of my second term — hopefully I get that first and second term — by the end of my second term, I make this commitment: We will have ... North America energy independence. We won’t have to buy oil from Venezuela and the Middle East.”
Romney spoke to a crowd of more than 1,500 for more than 15 minutes, outlining his priorities if elected — lowering taxes on the middle class, repealing Obama’s signature health-care reform package, reinstating work requirements for welfare benefits, championing trade policies “that work for America” and balancing the national budget.
The mine here was Romney’s first appearance in Ohio during a day that was capped by a rally in Chillicothe. In between, he stopped the motorcade at a Cambridge pizza shop off of Interstate 70, where he picked up two pepperoni pies for accompanying reporters.
“We were excited to see you pull in,” employee Marci Miller told him. “I was like, we have pizza, and you’ve gotta eat.”
Later, at the popular Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville and with Gov. John Kasich and GOP U.S. Sen. Rob Portman at his side, the trio ordered peanut butter cup and White House sundaes.
Owner Bill Sullivan told pool reporters he usually serves the latter, made with vanilla and cherries, only in February because of George Washington’s birthday but made an exception for Tuesday’s visit.
Romney was introduced in Beallsville by Portman, long considered a frontrunner for the No. 2 spot on the GOP presidential ticket. Also offering comments was state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in what has become one of the state’s most heated campaigns.