Craig, Colorado (CNN) – Set off by soaring music and a majestic local backdrop, Mitt Romney pulled up to the small town of Craig, Colorado promising to turn things around.
"I'm not going to forget Craig, Colorado," he told an audience gathered outdoors Tuesday morning. "I'm not going to forget communities like this across the country that are hurting right now under this president."
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Supporters in this city of 10,000 residents enthusiastically lined the block to enter Romney's Tuesday event, and a string of liquor stores and fast food joints on the main drag posted signs welcoming the former Massachusetts governor to the picturesque community.
But conversations with some local officials suggest Craig is not the ideal spot to deplore President Barack Obama's economic stewardship.
After an overnight stay in this coal mining region, on Tuesday Romney criticized Obama for creating a hostile climate for American business owners and energy producers and touted his own plans for fixing the nation's problems.
The presumptive GOP nominee said he decided to visit Craig after hearing the story of Frank and Kerrie Moe, who own a hotel in the city and who say a trickle down effect from overregulation on the coal industry is crushing their business.
Earlier this year the Moes told their story in a video produced by a conservative energy group backed by heavy-hitting Republican donors the Koch brothers. The video is titled "The Perfect Storm over Craig, CO."
Romney said their message spoke to him.
"We said, we've got to come here and let you know that we care about what's happening in Craig," Romney told the audience after being introduced by the hotel owners. "We care about what's happening in rural America."
An area coal mine, Peabody Energy's Twenty Mile, stopped production and bused in 148 miners to attend Romney's event. Men wearing the trademark mining uniform of blue overalls with crisscrossing reflective neon stripes stood in clumps among the audience.
The general manager of Peabody's Colorado operations, Pat Sollars, said the miners would be compensated for the time they spent at the event.
Sollars told reporters Romney understood how important coal production was to the nation's economic security and growth, and said the president "doesn't view coal as an essential element" in the nation's energy future.
But he could not point to any Obama-era decisions that had affected the coal business here. Instead, he said he was worried about what the president could do if re-elected.
"I think right now our big thing is looking to the future," he said.
Meanwhile, the city mayor told reporters the local economy had turned the corner. Unemployment in the county is slightly above the national average at 8.6% in March - down from 11.1% in 2010, according to the Department of Labor.
State Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call acknowledged bustling coal production had buoyed Craig's economy.
"The economy here in Craig and in Moffat County does seem stronger than a lot of our western slope communities," Call said. "And that's good. That's a good thing. We certainly welcome that kind of opportunity."
He faulted the Obama administration for slowing the approval of licensing requests for energy producers.
In his speech, Romney addressed signs of turnaround touted by Obama officials.
"Now his campaign these days is trying to find a twig to hang on to, some little excuse they can grab and say, 'Look, things are getting a little better, aren't they?'" he said. "And the answer is yeah, things are getting a little better in a lot of places in this country, but it's not thanks to his policies. It's in spite of his policies."
When did Colorado... become the voice of "coal"?
I see there is a lot of koolaid drinking going around! If people are stupid enough to give Obumma another 4 years he will finish destroying coal, gas, this country, and anything else his majesty does not like. People, please do not be fooled by the clown in the white house. He is not friend of America!
How does Mr. Romney feel about workers killed by negligent mine company owners....? Oh, yeah, he's one of them.
You don't want to live in an area where coal is the fuel source for power generation. The industry has worked for years to lower the health dangers and environmental damage with limited success. Romney will say and do anything today to get to tomorrow. What he will do tomorrow is impossible to tell. The man has no rudder.
I will take Obama ECONOMY ANY DAY OF THE WEEK VERSUS YOUR VULTURE RAIDING
Wake up people: You pray that folks aren't stupid enough to elect Rubmyknees – I hate to be redundant – but – We know who they just recently elected – not once but – TWICE!!
Another day, another pack of MIttens lies.
@we james: "He is not friend of America!"
Really? President Obama's policies kept our country from going into a Great Depression; domestic oil production is higher now than under GW Bush; Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive and the top auto maker in the world; we're out of Iraq and getting our of Afghanistan; his vision for our country includes investing in OUR NATION, as opposed to the GOP who only wants to lay off Americans and ship our jobs overseas.
Do a little independent thinking and maybe you'll see how much good President Obama has done. If you can't, then I feel sorry for you.
@Fair is Fair – Coal is used to generate 50% of the electricity in this country. Cut out coal and the only thing that will be dead is your batteries.
Actually, it's 49% – according to the World Coal Assoc. – but let's not let a FACT or two get in the way of a rant eh?
Yeah, and Romney's going to make you a multi-billionaire just like him, just sign on the invisible dotted line and that's the last time you'll hear from him.
Atta girl, Mittens, ya pathetic loser! You have to PAY people to show up. :LOL! And why are you attacking the President in a town that has a "bustling" local economy? I guess you were lying about his "failed policies".
Any one who would vote for Mitt is out of their mind. We all have to look to the lord not to let Mitt get in the white house, he would destroy the whole world.
"I don't really follow the mining industry very much, but some of my friends are mine owners."
like mitt says worker,s can be replaced–who needs safety or environment rules they just get in the way of profit
Now his campaign these days is trying to find a twig to hang on to, some little excuse they can grab and say, 'Look, things are getting a little better, aren't they?'" he said. "And the answer is yeah, things are getting a little better in a lot of places in this country."
Obama, job creator? How many jobs did he eliminate with his ongoing campaign to destroy the American Coal industry? I'm certain those job losses were greater than anything that happened under Romney at Bain.
Romney seems more and more desperate and pathetic. "in spite of his policies" won't work since Republicans have passed legislation on everything but the economy. Their lack of action on the economic front speakers louder than their rhetoric.
The flip-flopper has spoken. We must salute him. He knows all!
There is a problem with coal production; it hurts the country in many ways. Cutting off the tops of mountains lets winds build up for tornados; filling in streams and rivers does no one any good. How can coal be done properly? The mining companies need to be full invested with making safety number 1 priority rather than profit because people will always want more. Coal fired power plants need to be more efficient and cap the gases that they emit.
@DOCinPA....you are so right, maybe I should have said I pray people aren't as stupid again. From the looks, they are, because it seems like people have forgotten how our country got in so much debt and it's deplorable that they would ever want to go back to those policies, with some of the same guys helping Robmey.
romney is an idiot. vote all repos out. Obama 2012
I am an independent thinker and that's why I said what I did. In response to your points. Point 1 Really? President Obama's policies kept our country from going into a Great Depression (wake up, were still in one and we'll never be able to pay back what he's borrowed). Point 2 domestic oil production is higher now than under GW Bush (Thinks to private land and that's only because he has not figured out a way to stop that yet like he has on Federal lands) Point 3: Bin Laden is dead (thanks to the tactics put in place by George W. Bush) and finally; Point 4: GM is alive and the top auto maker (and they would have even without the bailout by us. In the end, they still filed for bankruptcy. And now they us $35 billion and Obumma's crony union has their claws in it and by the way, 2/3rds of the employees are not in the U.S.) So before you put you 2 cents in, please know the facts!
The republicans in the house have passed 2 budgets, a medicare reform package etc etc etc. Its the Dem Senate lead by Harry ried and backed by president obama who have not even considered a real compromise budget. Remember that the election of 2010 produced the largest net seat gain for the republicans or Dems in decades, they were swept to power because the Amican public wants them reduce spending, create jobs and stop the growth of Govt. The liberal media/Dem propaganda machine never reminds people of these facts.