PUEBLO, Colo. - President Obama today used the issues of wind energy and water purity to draw stark contrasts with Mitt Romney, and attempt to lure some of this state's environmentally-conscious swing voters to his side.
Speaking inside the Palace of Agriculture on the Colorado State Fairgrounds, Obama hammered his Republican rival for opposing an extension of tax credits to help wind energy producers finance new projects and hire new workers. The credits expire at the end of the year.
"At a moment when homegrown energy, renewable energy, is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers," Obama said, drawing boos from the crowd. "Think about what that would mean for a community like Pueblo. The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state. Without those tax credits, 37,000 American jobs, including potentially hundreds of jobs right here, would be at risk."
In a statement to The Des Moines Register last month, Romney spokesman Shawn McCoy said the former governor "will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits."
"Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private sector competitors with far more experience than the president believe the investment will produce results," McCoy said.
The position puts Romney at odds with a number of congressional Republicans from states like Iowa and Colorado, some of whom have publicly questioned his stance. The Obama campaign says it will continue to exploit the Republican divide over wind energy tax credits, particularly during the president's bus trip through Iowa next week.
Obama also raised the issue of water conservation and purification - salient here in Pueblo and throughout the Southwest - as a reason for greater federal infrastructure spending.
"Water is the lifeblood of our communities," Obama said. " It was 50 years ago this month that President Kennedy came to Pueblo, and he signed the 'Fry-Ark' [Fryingpan-Arkansas Project] bill." The measure led to the construction of dams and reservoirs on the Fryingpan and Arkansas Rivers to store and deliver water to the region.
"Today my administration is making sure 50 years later that you've got the resources to finish the job so that we are leaving your kids and your grandkids clean water, clean drinking water that - that is long overdue," he said. "That's the kind of investment in America that creates jobs now and makes life better for the future. That's what this election is about. That's the America we want to build."
Romney opposes Obama's plan to boost federal spending on infrastructure projects around the country as a way to create jobs.
Before arriving at the fairgrounds, Obama and his entourage stopped for breakfast at Romero's Café - a local, family-owned Tex-Mex diner that specializes in red and green chilis.
The president ordered enchiladas Tejanas, three corn tortillas stacked and stuffed with chorizo and topped with cheese, but told the cashier to hold the onions.
"You'd better take the onions out because I'm going to be kissing babies," he said.
UPDATE: Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg explained in an email that the governor opposes the wind energy tax credit extension because, in spite of "Obama's approach of massive subsidies and handouts," the industry has actually shed jobs while output has declined. She also noted that the one-year cost of extending the tax credit would be an estimated $12.2 billion.