On day two of a three day campaign swing through Iowa, President Obama cast his energy policy as an approach that finds new homegrown sources to replace imported oil and creates jobs in the industry.
Romney and Ryan, in respective appearances in Ohio and Colorado, hammered Obama for imposing new regulations they say have made business more difficult for traditional energy sources and have favoring elusive alternative energies over below-ground sources like coal that have been a critical part of the American economy for generations.
Across an Iowa landscape where wind turbines are nearly as common as corn fields, Obama pushed Congress to extend tax credits for the wind energy industry, a tax break that has faced Republican opposition.
In Iowa alone, the industry employs more than 7,000, according to the Obama campaign; across the country the number is 75,000. Obama has said that 37,000 jobs nationally would be at risk if the wind tax credit is not extended.
“He’s said new sources of energy like these are ‘imaginary.’ His running mate calls them a ‘fad,’” Obama said. “During a speech a few months ago, Governor Romney even explained his energy policy this way: ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ That’s what he said about wind power. ‘You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.’ I wonder if he actually tried that. That’s something I would have liked to see.”
Then, Obama offered a biting crack at Romney: “I don’t know if he’s actually tried that,” he said, of driving a car with a windmill on it. “I know he’s had other things on his car.”
It was a rare reference from Obama to an incident in which Romney drove from Massachusetts to Canada in 1993 with the family dog in a carrier on the roof of the car.
Obama spoke at an outdoor event at the Nelson Pioneer Farm and Museum in Oskaloosa in front of a subdued crowd of about 850. It was a picture-perfect summer day, with whispy clouds overhead and soybean and corn fields sprawling behind the president as he repeated his demand that Congress renew the wind-energy tax credit.
Romney has been critical of the Obama administration’s policies toward alternative energy sources, particularly a half-billion-dollar loan to solar-panel maker Solyndra, which subsequently collapsed. Romney and other Republicans have accused the administration of favoring Solyndra because its largest investors were funds linked to Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, an Obama donor.
The so-called Production Tax Credit, which is set to expire at the end of this year, provides tax credits to producers of wind power according to how many megawatts they produce. According to the Obama administration, the tax credit works in concert with the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit to provide a 30 percent investment credit to manufacturers who invest in equipment for clean energy projects in the United States.