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Romney tries to steer campaign message back to the economy

By JULIE PACE | Associated Press
August 23, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop at LeClaire Manufacturing, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, in Midland, Texas.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican Mitt Romney, seeking to refocus his presidential campaign on the economy after days of distraction, is promoting energy proposals aimed at creating more than 3 million new jobs and opening up more areas for drilling off the coast of two political battleground states, Virginia and North Carolina.

Romney’s pivot to energy, a key component of his jobs agenda, comes as the national debate has turned away from the GOP candidate’s jobs message and toward issues like rape, abortion, welfare and Medicare 2½ months before Election Day.

Signaling a renewed emphasis on the economy, Romney will travel from Arkansas to New Mexico on Thursday to discuss what aides cast as a comprehensive energy plan that would result in more than $1 trillion in revenue for federal, state and local governments, plus millions of jobs.

The most significant aspects of Romney’s plans hinge on opening up more areas for offshore oil drilling, including in the mid-Atlantic, where it is currently banned. Romney also wants to give states the power to establish all forms of energy production on federal lands, a significant shift in current policy that could face strong opposition in Congress.

Romney’s campaign says his strategy would achieve energy independence by 2020.

Locked in a tight election campaign with President Barack Obama, Romney is seeking to regain his economic focus after a week dominated by comments made by Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin, who is running for Senate. Akin has been rebuked by top Republicans, including Romney, for saying a woman’s body is able to avoid pregnancy during what he called a “legitimate rape.”

Romney called for Akin to drop out of the Senate race, but the congressman so far has refused.

Obama, seeking to boost his support among women, told donors Wednesday that Akin “somehow missed science class” and was representative of Republicans who want to “go backwards instead of forwards and fight fights that we thought were settled 20 or 30 years ago.”

On other issues, Romney’s shift away from his core economic message has been of his own campaign’s making.

Earlier this month, Romney’s team starting criticizing Obama on welfare reform, an issue that had barely registered in the campaign before the Republican ticket raised it. While Romney aides insist the issue is helping them gain ground with middle-class voters, independent fact-checkers have said Romney’s charges that Obama ended a welfare work requirement are false.

Romney also started aggressively tackling Medicare after picking Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. A cornerstone of Ryan’s budget proposals is an overhaul of Medicare, and Romney aides said he had to tackle the issue directly before Obama and Democrats tried to define Ryan’s position for voters.

Campaigning Wednesday in Iowa and Arkansas, Romney never mentioned Medicare, welfare or Akin’s comments.

He did preview his energy speech, promising donors at a fundraiser in Arkansas that “North America will be energy-independent by the last year of my second term.”

Romney’s energy pledges revived a long-elusive goal of reducing America’s dependence on foreign supplies.

Nearly every U.S. president, including Obama, has made similar vows. Richard Nixon made the case for energy independence in 1973 after Arab oil producers cut off supplies in response to U.S. support of Israel in the Mideast war.

Obama has called for a one-third reduction in U.S. oil imports by 2025. The president’s proposal for boosting domestic oil production relies in part on offering incentives to companies that hold leases for offshore and onshore drilling to speed up recovery; increasing the use of biofuels and natural gas; and making vehicles more energy-efficient.

Obama’s campaign released a statement from former Energy Secretary Federico Pena, who served under President Bill Clinton, questioning how Romney planned to achieve his “lofty energy goals” and backing Obama as a champion of “an all of the above approach to energy that responsibly develops America’s great natural resources.”

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Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

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Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press

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One Response to Romney tries to steer campaign message back to the economy

  1. Sandy Price

    August 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I think Gov. Romney must be in a terrible predicament starting with his pro-choice stand when he was Governor. He has had to change his position on this and many other parts of his agenda.

    He knows damn well the new Platform will be released on Monday with a new section on the U.S. Constitution. His being at the top of the Party would have been given to him for approval before being distributed on Monday. This new section handles the change to the Platform of issuing a new prohibition naming all forms of abortions to be made into a federal crime. This will be found in the new 2012 U.S. Constitution.

    Suddenly after allowing Todd Akin’s attention on the subject of abortions and his total lack of intelligence on rape being unable to cause a pregnancy was the first in issuing the new Agenda from the RNC. The fact that many Democrats will not be able to vote due to some silly ballot restrictions also comes from the Evangelical Americans who have pushed their own agenda into the 2012 election. They had to do this as allowing a simple clean election as in 2008, won it for Obama.

    I want to know how far the Evangelicals will go to see Romney and/or Ryan make it, one way or another into the White House. This may be their once in a lifetime chance at making America into a Christian nation. A lot of terrible actions have been done in the name of Jesus Christ. Can Romney be trusted with our nation?

    Are we facing another problem that nearly destroyed our government in the 1860’s? We saw then how they got rid of an unpopular President. Can it happen again?