Paul Beck, a political science professor emeritus at Ohio State University, said coal mining is just one avenue for Romney in his attempt to cull support among working class voters.
"This is a broader issue of, How do you court the white working class?" said Paul Beck, a political science professor emeritus at Ohio State University. "Coal miners are a group that I think it's easy for white working class people to identify with. We know who they are and what they do, and it's a tough job and a dangerous job so there is sympathy there."
That white working class came out in force for Republicans in the last election. The GOP picked up 14 House seats and one Senate seat in coal mining states during the 2010 midterm election.
But those states are trending toward Obama in 2012, according to the latest battleground state polls. In Ohio, where the GOP picked up five House seats in 2010, Obama is beating Romney by 10 points, according to a CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac poll released this week.
And in Pennsylvania, where Democrats lost five House seats and one Senate seat in 2010, Obama has pulled seven points ahead of Romney, according to a Morning Call poll released Friday. A collection of polls from mid-September showed Obama leading by between four and eight percentage points in Virginia, where Republicans gained three House seats in 2010.
"Obama could win the election without doing any better in 2012 than he did in 2008 among white working class voters, but Romney can't win the election if he can't do well in that group," Beck said.