OSKALOOSA, Iowa — President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sparred over energy policy Tuesday, adding state-specific issues to a contest otherwise focused on the weak economy. Obama mocked Romney's stance on wind power while Romney accused the president of waging a "war on coal."
The emphasis on the economy continued, however. A new Obama television ad and Vice President Joe Biden assailed GOP budget plans to overhaul Medicare, cut trillions of dollars from domestic programs including education and lower taxes on high-income taxpayers. Romney's camp replied with their own TV spot casting Obama as a danger to seniors.
In Iowa, a center of wind energy production in the United States, Obama noted that Romney once dismissed wind power by saying "you can't drive a car with a windmill on it."
"I don't know if he's actually tried that. I know he's had other things on his car," Obama joked, referring to the often-repeated tale of a Romney family road trip with their dog, Seamus, in a carrier strapped to the roof of the car.
"But if he wants to learn something about wind, all he's got to do is pay attention to what you've been doing here in Iowa."
Romney, campaigning in coal-rich eastern Ohio, said Obama was misleading Ohio voters by claiming new jobs in coal producing regions. He also promised to make the U.S. independent from Venezuelan and Middle Eastern oil.
"By the end of my second term, I'll make this commitment: We will have American, we will have North American energy independence," Romney said at a coal mine in Beallsville. "We won't have to buy oil from Venezuela and the Middle East. We're going to be independent."
Standing not far from a bulldozer filled with coal and decorated with a sign that read, "Coal Country Stands With Mitt," Romney accused Obama of lying to voters in this coal-rich region.