Romney Talks Western Slope Energy, Other Statewide Concerns
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- "Do you think [current government policies] are working to create American jobs?" asked Mitt Romney. "No!" the crowd reacted.
They might be saying "no," but Romney is saying yes to Colorado, making his fourth stop to the Western Slope so far this campaign.
Party officials say the town hall was crucial for the presidential hopeful. "They want to hear what the plan is, what the direction is that we're going to be moving. They want to hear us talk about the economy and jobs and how we're going to be turning that around," said Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction.
Santorum won Colorado's caucus, but with an estimated cheering crowd of about 1,000, there was no shortage of Romney supporters. He's hoping to secure those Santorum votes to clinch the swing state.
The latest Gallup polls show Obama and Romney's approval ratings are in a dead heat at 46 percent. "If you look at the state economy, they say it's recovering, but it's recovering along the I-25 corridors. We've got to get the rest of rural Colorado to work," said Rep. Don Coram, R-Colo.
"Jobs and the economy are No. 1. We have to get this turned around. What do we do to turn that around: oil and gas here in Western Colorado," said Rep. Ray Scott, R-Colo.
Romney hopes to tip the scales in this state with his policy on energy. "Take advantage of our energy resources: our coal, our natural gas, our oil," Romney said to the crowd.
"I also want to begin leasing additional oil operations on federal lands. The president has cut that by about half on lands and offshore," he added.
One of his top priorities: reversing the Keystone Pipeline veto. "If I became president, we'd approve the Keystone Pipeline, get it built and bring the oil in from Canada," Romney said.
But he takes a much less forward approach to Colorado's wildfire prevention. "Whether it's taking out the beetle-infested trees that have died or finding a way to thin the forest ... or whether it's taking a different course, that's something I'd like to have scientists look at. Politicians can't make that decision," the presidential hopeful explained.
On a larger scale, Romney's target on "Day 1," as is part of his campaign, will be free market financial policy. "Right now we have the highest corporate taxes in the world. Our individual taxes are making it harder for businesses that pay tax at the individual level," he said.
Ending with a question and answer session, the polished politician was asked a tough question on gay rights that he flipped into an abortion issue. Romney ultimately explained that, along with health care, he believes those decisions should be left to the states.