Obama calls miners in Romney ad 'props'
October 3rd, 2012
12:22 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama calls miners in Romney ad 'props'

(CNN) – The latest salvo in the battle for coal country is an ad from President Barack Obama's campaign, which accuses Mitt Romney of using miners as "props" at a campaign rally that was subsequently used in a television commercial.

The spot, which CNN's ad tracker CMAG identified as airing in the Youngstown, Ohio media market, slams Romney for a commercial released last month.

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"See the coal miners in these ads?" a narrator asks. "They were told that attendance at Mitt Romney's rally was 'mandatory.' Their mine was closed and they lost pay they needed. All to be props in Romney's commercial."

Text at the end of the ad drives home the point: "Mitt Romney: Not one of us."

The commercial in question uses footage from an August rally Romney held at the Century Mine in Ohio, which is owned by Murray Energy. In the spot, he's pictured standing in front of miners questioning the president's record on energy.

"We have 250 years of coal. Why wouldn't we use it?" Romney asks in the spot.

The workers in the spot later complained to a local radio host that they were forced to attend the rally and weren't paid for the time they spent standing behind Romney.

Rob Moore, an executive vice president at Murray Energy, told CNN affiliate WTOV those accusations were false.

"Those are baseless claims and accusations that are intended to silence Murray Corporation from speaking out against the Obama administration," Moore said, adding that the mine was shut down on the day of Romney's visit for safety reasons.

"I did not say that the event was mandatory," Moore continued. "I said certain managers may have stated the event was mandatory and maybe they selected bad words. Bottom line is no one was forced to attend the event."

The Obama ad is the latest in a series of spots targeting workers in Ohio's coal country. Two coal-focused Romney campaign ads released two weeks ago aired in the Charleston, West Virginia, media market, which includes part of southern Ohio, and the Wheeling, West Virginia, – Steubenville, Ohio, market, according to CMAG.

Those two ads featured coal miners venting frustration at Obama's policies, which one said are "attacking my livelihood."

And last week, Romney's campaign released its third ad targeting Obama's coal industry record, saying the Democrat was hurting job creation.

Ohio is a key battleground in November's election. A poll released Wednesday showed Obama with an eight point lead over Romney, 51%-43%. A CNN Poll of Polls which averages three recent surveys in the Buckeye State indicates Obama at 52% and Romney at 43%.


Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Energy • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Now he's insulting miners ! Like these men don't have a mind of their own? Obama is the most divisive president in history!"

    Hey, genius, it's their employer and Mittens who treated these people as props, not Obama. His description of how they were USED by Murray and Mittens is DEAD ACCURATE.

    October 3, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. TLHemlock

    Notice the guy on the left with his face completely blackened by coal dust? Notice the mark where his protective goggles are? Why doesn't he have a clean mark where his face mask should be? Bet he has black lung already.

    October 3, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    He's NOT insulting miners, you goofball. Forcing them to be used as PROPS is INSULTING to miners!

    October 3, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. JJD

    "I did not say that the event was mandatory," Moore continued. "I said certain managers may have stated the event was mandatory and maybe they selected bad words. Bottom line is no one was forced to attend the event."

    Last I remember the word MANDATORY meant you HAVE to be there.

    October 3, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. alien

    I guarantee no union member will vote against their own best interest, Romney wants a national right to work law, that would be like a knife to the neck for unions and their members.

    October 3, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. lnd72

    I sounds like accusations are being thrown around here with very little evidence one way or the other. Most of the "facts" appear to be hear say. Where did president Obama get his information? Was this a planned shutdown, or a shutdown for the rally?

    October 3, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    Romney is shameless! Nothing but a used car salesman!

    October 3, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  8. patNY

    What I don't understand is the reluctance by the coal industry from adopting clean coal technology so that we can use all of that abundant coal without (1) killing off the environment with acid raid, and (2) emitting crazy amounts of green house gasses that will hasten global warming? It's very simple – get on the green band wagon, and we will have coal exploding out of every crevace of this nation, and we can give the Middle East and its oil the middle finger! A win win for blue, red and purple states alike!

    October 3, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Pete

    Did they also tell you that a memo was sent out telling Murray employees you" will be present or else" .And did they say they weren't paid for being there ,of course not!!Murray a big Romney donor and helps him advise on energy matters,nice ha,ask the employees how they felt about looking just what they were ,props!!

    October 3, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Mikey

    "I did not say that the event was mandatory," Moore continued. "I said certain managers may have stated the event was mandatory and maybe they selected bad words. Bottom line is no one was forced to attend the event."
    ************************************************************************
    If their manager or supervisor said attendance was mandatory, then they were made to attend. What a weak cop out by the company. Sounds to me like they should pay the workers for the time they lost.

    October 3, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Bryan

    If the mine was closed and they weren't being used as props why are they wearing work clothes?

    October 3, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. CBR

    The comment about President Obama's dialect was neither necessary or true. Please use this space to discuss the subject at hand.

    Coal mining is difficult and each miner knows that when he enters the mine. However, coal can be part of the energy plan for the USA if the users will add the necessary components to make it a clean form of energy. Since Mr. Romney seems to have an "in" with the bosses of the mines perhaps he can cajole them to improve safety standards and pay their employees a salary which is equal to the amount of danger inherent in the job. There have been mining accidents at mines that were cited for safety violations. Perhaps he can get the companies to address these violations when received and not months or years later.

    October 3, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    The owners of Murray and other mining companies are just upset that after 8 years of not needing to worry about regulations (unless there was an accident) they are have been required to follow federal mine safety guidelines for the last 3-1/2 years. That cuts into their profit margins because it requires them to actually have usable safety equipment available to the crews working IN the mines, not just in some building that no one has access to.

    October 3, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Kef14

    millionaires and billionaires forcing their workers to model for Romney ads so they can get more tax breaks to buy more houses in exotic locations? Sounds about right.

    October 3, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. usa

    @ Malory Archer "I did not say that the event was mandatory," Moore continued. "I said certain managers may have stated the event was mandatory and maybe they selected bad words. Bottom line is no one was forced to attend the event."
    You're only reading what the Obama ad stated – not the facts.

    October 3, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  16. Mikey

    @truth – "Obama and his green agenda wants to put ALL of the coal miners out of work."
    *************************************************************************
    Yes, the President wants to transition from dirty energy to clean energy, but the process will take decades. It's called progress.

    @Critical Thinking – hmmm, union people who work hard, put their lives on the line to produce an energy product that keeps this nation going are props? really? this president is sooooooooooooooooo outr of touch
    ****************************************************************************
    Was there a logical point to your word salad? It was Romney who used them as props – and disrespected them in the process. The President's campaign just called him out on it. You may be critical, but you're clearly not thinking.

    October 3, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Mark

    "Critical thinking" is demonstrating none. Obama is not insulting the miners – Romney and his supporter the mine owner are taking advantage of them. Fact: Romney and the mine owner had them stand there as props. Fact (as stated by the workers and not disputed by the owner/company): The workers were not paid for that pleasure. Fact (as stated by the workers and admitted by the company): Managers told workers it was mandatory to be there (without pay).

    Whether they were "forced" to be there, as the company now stupidly attempts to focus on, is irrelevant. If your boss tells you it's mandatory to show up, then it's mandatory to show up. No one is claiming they were dragged there physically against their will. But they were required to do their owner's bidding, at Romney's behest, in order to stand there and appear that they suppored him (i.e., to be props for Romney), for no pay. It's all pretty darn understandable, and if you had any "critical thinking" you'd just accept this one and pick other fights.

    October 3, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Thomas

    From the article: The workers in the spot later complained to a local radio host that they were forced to attend the rally and weren't paid for the time they spent standing behind Romney.

    Those hard working men and women that go down in a mine and bust there butts each day . They would be dead of black lung if it was up to Romney's deregulation of environmental and workers heath rights.

    October 3, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Borderless

    Oh my God! This from a man who wants to reward big business for essentially lying to their employees in violation of federal law. Obama has absolutely no shame! He begs to be voted out of office!

    October 3, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Dee

    If the mine was"shut down" on the day of Romneys visit why are the miner's faces and clothes dirty ? looks to me like they were dragged out of the mines for Romney's photo op...and do not look happy about it !

    October 3, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Jill

    Back when this event happened, we watched this tape replayed many times. Romney walks by these men, never once holding out his hand to shake some of their hands. He turns away from them toward the microphone and looks out at the crowd and sort of shrugs his shoulders – his body language speaks a thousand words. I felt bad for all of them. They work so hard and go deep into the earth to do jobs almost all of us would never do.

    October 3, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. ARMYCSM

    The look on theirs faces speaks volumes.

    October 3, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Ancient Texan

    And Obama surrounded himself with folks in white coats.....some actually Doctors, when he was selling his biggest disaster-Obamacare.They were definitely PROPS.

    October 3, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. Wes B.

    I love how a bunch have all kinds of fake dirt on them. Seems very posed. But this goes on with both sides.

    October 3, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. BK

    Okay, quick question: if the mine was shut down that day due to safety reasons, ans the employer asserts, why are the miners' faces covered in coal? Did Romney bring a makeup crew with him to make it look as though the men had been working that day, or (more likely) is the bosses' claim bullsh**t? Also, to 'Critical Thinking': what makes you think these miners belong to a union? If you dig a little deeper and try not to make lazy assertions you'll find that Murray Energy is anti-union, and is closing union mines to move production to scab operations. That's why the boss is so friendly to Romney, who has built a career on the same kind of exploitation. So spare us the sympathy for the 'working man,' CT; its all a crock, and easy to see through.

    October 3, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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