BEALLSVILLE, Ohio — With 75 miners lined up behind him, Mitt Romney used his campaign stop here Tuesday to indulge in some coal country tough talk, pledging full support for the industry if he's elected president, and hitting the Obama administration for tightly regulating coal plants.
Earlier in the day, the Romney campaign sent out a press release describing the administration's policies as "Obama's war on coal."
"[Obama's] vice president said coal is more dangerous than terrorists. Can you imagine that? That tells you exactly what he feels," Romney told the crowd of about 1,000.
But even as he spoke, Obama campaign aides Tweeted reminders that Romney wasn't always so put off by violent anti-coal rhetoric. As governor of Massachusetts, he once stood outside a coal plant and declared, "I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant, that plant kills people."
Adviser Kevin Madden told reporters that he couldn't offer details on Romney's evolution on the issue, but said his current support for the industry is unreserved.
"I think he just has a full recognition that it's part of an all-of-the-above energy policy," said Madden, adding that he still shares his early concerns about safety: "I think anytime you're dealing with any sort of energy exploration, safety is important. No change in that."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at email@example.com.
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