GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, captured in this photograph inside a Whittle the Wood Rendezvous sculpture, makes his way through the crowd Tuesday morning at Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig.

Photo by Joe Moylan

GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, captured in this photograph inside a Whittle the Wood Rendezvous sculpture, makes his way through the crowd Tuesday morning at Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig.

Going red for Romney: GOP presidential candidate's speech rallies around Republican ideals

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Mitt Romney speaks to Craig

Quotable

“(President Barack Obama) says he’s for all of the above and I finally figured out what he means: he’s for all of the sources of energy that come from above the ground. … I want energy above and below the ground. I want coal, gas, oil, nuclear, as well as renewables.”

— Presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney about how his energy policy would differ from President Obama’s

Mitt Romney on Tuesday did what no other presidential candidate has done in more than 100 years of Moffat County history.

He campaigned in Craig.

Speaking in a region with abundant natural resources and to a community dependent on energy development for jobs, the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee wasted no time criticizing President Barack Obama’s regulation of the coal, oil and natural gas industries.

“(President Obama) says he’s for ‘all of the above’ when it comes to energy, you’ve heard that,” Romney said. “And yet he’s made it harder to get coal out of the ground, he’s made it harder to get natural gas out of the ground, he’s made it harder to get oil out of the ground.

“(Obama) says he’s for all of the above and I finally figured out what he means: he’s for all of the sources of energy that come from above the ground. … I want energy above and below the ground. I want coal, gas, oil, nuclear, as well as renewables.”

That message was well received by Craig Mayor Terry Carwile, a retired employee of Trapper Mine who has seen firsthand how regulations have stymied the local coal industry.

“He said words that spoke to me that he does not want to see the industry burdened with regulations,” Carwile said. “Trapper, for all of the years I worked out there, was a very environmentally responsible company and I am sure the same can be said for Colowyo. All of that land out by Hayden was former coal mines and it has been reclaimed in better condition than before the mines started.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers echoed that sentiment.

“It was awesome, it was very impressive,” Mathers said. “Right now, he is our salvation for Moffat County.”

Romney covered a broad range of topics in his 14-minute speech, in which he condemned Obama’s stimulus packages, education and health care policies, proposed tax reforms, and the growing federal deficit.

But in each example, the overarching theme was the same: federal government must be an ally to businesses if America is to “get back on its feet again.”

“Now, the last four years have been a disappointment for the American people,” Romney said. “Things are getting a little better in a lot of places in this country, but it’s not thanks to (Obama’s) policies, it’s in spite of his policies.

“I can assure you that if I get elected, with your help I will make things better.”

Romney criticized the Obama stimulus package for protecting unnecessary government jobs, and said ObamaCare has made it more difficult for private sector employers to hire and retain workers.

“We have 145,000 more government workers under this president, let’s send them home and put you back to work,” Romney said. “If I’m president, I’m going to repeal ObamaCare and get healthcare to work for you. … Let’s get health care working for the people instead of working for the bureaucrats in Washington.”

Romney was critical of the president concerning national debt.

He said instead of reducing the deficit as promised, Obama has more than doubled it during his time in office.

“That deficit is something my generation is not going to pay back, it’s going to be passed on to our kids and our grandkids,” Romney said. “And I think it’s not just bad economics, I think it’s immoral for us to pass on those burdens to our kids.

“If I’m president, I’ll go after that deficit and get America on track to a balanced budget.”

Romney singled out Shaylee Patterson, an eight-year-old Craig resident who attended the campaign rally with her parents, as he spoke about education.

He criticized Obama’s policies on the nation’s education system as being too narrowly focused on teachers rather than students.

“I want you to have a good job, I want you to be able to stay here in Craig and I also want you to have a great school,” Romney said. “I want to make sure we have a president that cares more about kids than he does about the teacher’s union.

“I love great teachers, I love great parents and I love great kids. I’m going to put our kids first.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said fixing education is a key issue.

“I appreciated his comments about education,” Gray said. “I think our education system is a mess. We need freedom of choice in education, not for the teacher’s unions, but for the kids.”

Patterson, like many others in the crowd, was wearing a baseball cap that read “Coal = Jobs.”

Romney took note of the message as he returned to the important role the energy industry could play in reducing the federal deficit, creating jobs and increasing the nation’s energy independence.

“We could finally have a resurgence of our economy that puts people back to work,” Romney said. “And let me tell you how that’s going to happen — one it’s going to happen by taking advantage of our extraordinary abundance of energy resources, keeping the cost of energy down so we can make it more attractive for jobs to come back to this great country.

“I’m not going to forget Craig, Colorado. I’m not going to forget communities like this across the country that are hurting right now under this president.

“I’m in this race because I believe in American greatness.”

Shortly after Romney’s campaign stop in Craig, the Obama for America campaign office in Colorado hosted a conference call with former Grand Junction Mayor Jim Spehar and Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.

During the call, state democrats criticized Romney’s brand of energy economics.

“Mitt Romney has pledged to protect $4 billion in big oil tax breaks that would benefit his billionaire donors, while saying he would roll back tax credits that support Colorado clean energy jobs,” Palacio said in an Obama campaign news release.

“That would be in keeping with Romney economics: favoring short-term gains for those at the very top over long-term investments that would help everyone.”

Palacio and Spehar touted Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy for adding tens of thousands of jobs in the oil and natural gas industry, an additional 200,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, and cited a 15-year high in coal mining jobs across the country.

“Mitt Romney got a lot wrong in his speech today in Craig,” Spehar said in the release. “The reality is President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy approach is working — it’s reducing our reliance on foreign oil, and it’s creating jobs.

“Whether you’re in natural gas, oil, coal, wind, solar or any other form of energy, the demand for energy in our country is steadily increasing, and there is room for everyone under all-of-the-above.”

Sacha Weis, a scrubber at Craig Station and Libertarian candidate for Colorado Senate District 8, attended Tuesday’s campaign rally.

Although she agreed with Romney’s overall message that the energy industry is over-regulated, Weis doesn’t believe the problems facing the energy industry can be solved by Democrats or Republicans.

She will be voting for Libertarian presidential nominee and former Republican Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson.

“I think we have too many regulations, which is crippling us,” Weis said. “I don’t believe he (Romney) can fix it (energy). I don’t believe either candidate (Romney or Obama) will do anything for our issues.”

Although Romney didn’t cite any specific examples of how he intends to help the energy industry from burdensome regulations, many believed his visit to Craig was a good sign for the local mines and the power plant.

“I appreciate he cares enough about energy and natural resources to come here,” Gray said. “Our energy industry is not asking for favors, it’s just asking for a level playing field, which it hasn’t had.

“I don’t know exactly what (Romney) will do in regards to regulations, but I do believe he will give us a level playing field and that’s really all we ask.”

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