GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney stands behind a Whittle the Wood Rendezvous sculpture as he makes his way through the crowd Tuesday morning at Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig.

Photo by Joe Moylan

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney stands behind a Whittle the Wood Rendezvous sculpture as he makes his way through the crowd Tuesday morning at Alice Pleasant Park in downtown Craig.

Romney's speech in Craig rallies behind GOP ideals

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Mitt Romney speaks to Craig

— Mitt Romney on Tuesday did something no other presidential candidate has ever done.

He campaigned in Craig.

Speaking in a region with abundant natural resources and to a community dependent on energy development for jobs, the Republican Party presidential nominee didn’t hesitate to criticize President Barack Obama’s regulation of the coal, oil and natural gas industries.

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 said he 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.”

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. 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.”

Romney criticized the Obama stimulus package for protecting unnecessary government jobs, and he 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 health care to work for you.”

Romney was critical of the president concerning the national debt, too.

“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 8-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.”

Romney took note of the message as he returned to the 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 got a lot wrong in his speech today in Craig,” Spehar said in a news 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.”

Although Romney didn’t cite any specific examples of how he intends to help the energy industry by reducing regulations, many thought 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.

“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.”

Audrey Danner introduces Mitt Romney

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