Coal heats up as issue for Obama in election
Clean-air rules hit swing states
As gasoline prices continue to rise and keep the heat on President Obama’s energy policies, critics also are accusing the president of shifting support away from the coal industry, a major source of fuel and jobs in several battleground states, including Colorado, Michigan and Ohio.
Lawmakers on both sides of the partisan aisle say Obama administration environmental regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions are poised to hit jobs and consumers harder than the Keystone XL decision at the same time the president seems to have abandoned his stated support for the coal industry and clean-coal technology.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, wrote a letter to Mr. Obama last week taking issue with the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas rule-making, naming an anti-mercury rule among several regulations that he said would cost a combined 180,000 jobs.
“You have rightly noted that oil production alone cannot solve our en-
MOSCOW | Russian riot police arrested hundreds of protesters Monday, including prominent opposition leaders, who claimed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stole Sunday’s presidential election.
Demonstrators shouted, “Russia without Putin,” as police moved into a crowd that refused to leave Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow, a short distance from the Kremlin and the seat of power in Russia.
Moscow authorities had approved the demonstration and dispatched about 12,000 police officers to keep order. When the official time for the
Obama’s decision to require institutions with a religious affiliation to provide insurance that covers contraceptives is an infringement on First Amendment protections, but, after stumbling, Mr. Obama has fought back by saying he is defending women’s reproductive health.
Sensing the way the issue has played out, the presidential candidates have tried to move on.
Newt Gingrich has tried to focus instead on rising gas prices, and Mitt Romney, campaigning in Ohio on Monday, urged the field to shy away from social issues altogether.
“I look at this campaign right now and I see a lot of folks talking about lots of things, but what we need to talk about to defeat Barack Obama is getting good jobs and scaling back the size of government, and that’s what I do,” Mr. Romney said.
The numbers on contraceptives were just one of the signs of trouble for the candidates, who have staked out several positions that could damage them at the polls.
That was the case on immigration, where analysts say the GOP is shedding Hispanic support by taking a strict stance on the issue — but Republican primary voters said they don’t care.
By a margin of nearly 4-to-1, likely Republican primary voters said the GOP should stake out a tough stance, even if it will cost the party Hispanic support.
The candidates are abiding by that view. Mr. Romney, should he win the nomination, would be the strictest on illegal immigration of any major-party nominee in history, as would his closest competitor, Rick Santorum.
Overall, this year’s GOP’S presidential field is arguably the most conservative in history — as evidenced by the fact that Mr. Romney was considered the conservative alternative in 2008, but this year is derided as the liberal candidate of the bunch.
Still, in the Washington Times/jz Analytics poll, a plurality of voters — 42 percent — describe themselves as more conservative than the field. Another 37 percent said they are about the same level as the candidates, while 15 percent, chiefly self-identified independents who vote in GOP primaries, said they are more liberal than the field.
The survey of 500 people who said they already have or are likely to vote in Republican primaries was taken Friday and Saturday. It has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.
On the contraceptive issue, Republicans have been in retreat since last week, when radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh questioned the promiscuity of a Georgetown University Law School student who said her contraceptive coverage costs her $1,000 a year, which she must pay out of pocket.
Mr. Limbaugh apologized for his language over the weekend, even as several sponsors said they would no longer back his show.
Mr. Obama pursued the political advantage by making a phone call to the 30-year-old student, Sandra Fluke, late last week.
Liberal advocacy groups have called on the GOP presidential candidates to denounce Mr. Limbaugh, and one of them — the labor union-backed Americans United for Change — drew a connection between Bain Capital, the company Mr. Romney used to run, and Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks Inc., which has Mr. Limbaugh under contract.
Women’s rights groups said Mr. Limbaugh’s comments signal a broader and deeper hostility toward women in U.S. political discourse.
“The attacks on Ms. Fluke’s character have revealed the deep-rooted hostility toward women that lies at the heart of the unprecedented wave of assaults on reproductive rights across the United States,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
ROCK THE VOTE: Russian police subdue demonstrators who refused to disperse in Moscow on Monday. Protesters contested the outcome of the Russian presidential election, pointing to reports of widespread violations in balloting.