AFL-CIO chief Trumka to hit Romney on coal

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will push back against GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday, saying the Republican would not support the coal industry in the White House.


In prepared remarks shared with The Hill, the head of the nation’s largest labor federation will say at a Pittsburgh rally with former President Bill Clinton that Romney would cut back on clean-coal-technology jobs and that Romney, as Massachusetts governor, opposed the coal industry.

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“Mitt Romney says there’s a war on coal, and he’s right. But it’s a war he started in Massachusetts when he sued the EPA to force new regulations to kill coal jobs. Today, Mitt Romney has campaigned against those same exact regulations and he blames them on President Obama. But we know the truth,” Trumka will say.

The union leader will question Romney’s support for coal-industry jobs.

“Mitt Romney says he’ll be a coal president, but he swore he’d cut funding for clean coal technology. And you know and I know that clean coal technology creates jobs, good jobs. And if that funding gets cut, those jobs will get cut,” Trumka will say.

Trumka has gone after Romney in the past for alleged pandering to coal. The GOP nominee has campaigned in several coal-producing areas in key swing states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, promising to roll back regulations against the industry.

The Obama administration’s actions against the coal industry, however, could hurt the president’s standing with voters in Appalachia. The United Mine Workers of America has not endorsed Obama this election after doing so in 2008.

Trumka is a third-generation coal miner who grew up in Nemacolin, Pa., and has sought to defend the president’s record on coal. The AFL-CIO has endorsed Obama for reelection and has assembled a huge volunteer force to contact millions of voters through canvassing and phone-banking this campaign.

According to Trumka, 7,500 union volunteers have made more than 1 million phone calls, knocked on roughly 700,000 doors and passed out 1.5 million fliers at work sites in Pennsylvania alone. 

The Romney team has made a last-minute push in Pennsylvania, with the GOP nominee stumping in the state on Sunday and outside spending groups launching an ad blitz in the last week of the campaign. 

But the state has not backed a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, and the RealClearPolitics poll average for the state has Obama leading Romney by 3.9 points.