Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 13, 2012

Va. Senate candidate George Allen visits Richlands during coalfield campaign tour

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

RICHLANDS, Va. — On a beautiful fall day in the far Southwest, George Allen, former Virginia governor and former U.S. Senator, traveled through Virginia coal country Friday, appearing to draw energy as he approaches the final 25 days of his campaign before the Nov. 6 election showdown with Timothy M. Kaine, also a former Virginia governor and the former chair of the National Democratic Party.

With a crowd of 150 or more people gathered in the V&V Restaurant parking lot on Front Street in Richlands, Allen blasted the prolonged impasse in the Senate while the budget deficit grows and Congress discusses how to address the challenges of unemployment. “Raising taxes in a weak economy is only going to put more men and women out of work,” Allen said

“Folks, we need to get focused,” he said. “There’s no better social program than a job.” He said that Congress needs to make cuts in government, balance the budget, and equip the president with line item veto powers, but he added: “We should also thank God that America is blessed with fertile ground and (the world’s most abundant) energy resources.” He said that his view on the nation’s energy resources differs from the views of Kaine and President Barack Obama, stating that they “seem to think our American energy resources are a curse.” he said.

“We can have an industrial renaissance here in America,” he said, adding: “You’re under assault. How did this (happen)? Did any of you all vote for EPA?” he asked.

Allen said he would join U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., in the fight against the “onerous” EPA regulations that have adversely impacted the coal mine permitting process. “Coal means jobs,” Allen said. “Coal means affordable electricity.”

He got a cheer from the crowd when he said he has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Allen shared a story that during his earlier stop on Friday at the Energy Expo at the Dickenson County Center for Educational Research, he heard from a Dickenson County official who said: “Southwest Virginia lives or dies on the outcome of this election,” he said. “In Virginia, we’re in the eye of this storm. The people of Virginia want a voice.”

Allen pledged “if you hire me,” on Nov. 6, “I’m going to work (for you) every day.”

John David Cruey, a Tazewell County business owner, opened the rally by singing the gospel version of Lee Greenwood’s, “God Bless the U.S.A.” Dr. J. Mark Estepp, president of Southwest Virginia Community College offered prayer and State Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield served as moderator for the event.

“We must ask ourselves: Are we really better off than we were for years ago?” Morefield asked.

The crowd answered with an emphatic response: “No,” they said.

Griffith expressed appreciation for the turnout. “Thank you Richlands,” he said. He asked for a show of hands from the people who were in Abingdon, Va., on Oct. 5 for the Mitt Romney rally, and also asked the crowd what they thought of the first presidential debate and the vice presidential candidate debate on Thursday night.

“Are you ready to win this war on coal?” he asked. “How can you live in this part of the country and not be fighting the Obama Administration’s war on coal and Lisa Jackson (administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency)?”

He said that the president’s idea that energy producers would pass the cost increases of producing energy on to their customers. “Who are those consumers?” Griffith asked. “Those costs will be passed on to the consumer. That is a tax on the middle class.” Griffith said that, if re-elected, he would continue to fight against the war on coal.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com