US presidential election: The miners betting on Romney

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in West Chester, Ohio, 2 November Mitt Romney is seen here campaigning in West Chester, Ohio, on Friday

Vast vehicles out of some cyber punk dystopia rip at the earth to uncover the coal below. The clawed beasts, with wheels taller than a person, are driven by weather-beaten men, unshaven, rough and dusty in hard hats and shades. The personification of the white working class.

This is Ohio's coal country, a rich seam of votes for Mitt Romney. He has accused President Barack Obama of waging a "war on coal" by bringing in new rules which make it harder for power stations to burn coal. Mining is not doing well. It lost 9,000 jobs last month, Friday's figures show.

In many places green policies are a lure to voters. Not in coal country. But my visit to the Oxford open cast mine is also a healthy reminder voters are individuals with complex views, not merely ciphers in a demographic.

John "Cheeseburger" Doyle is the foreman here and he has been mining since he was 13, when he helped out in his uncle's mine. Not that the rules allowed it, even then, but back then the rules did not matter so much.

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He grumbles slightly about the regulations, and more about the lack of coordination from the various authorities which enforce them.

He is proud of their landscaping - and one agency is very happy with the careful way they created a large meadow of beautiful waving grass surrounding four ponds. The rules made them do it. That is the way it is.

They have torn up the earth, taken out the coal, so they put it back together like it was. Only another agency says there should be a stream, not ponds. The argument is wearing.

But his real worry is what the rules mean for the jobs of the 60 or so people here. This mine has another year's worth of coal in it, at least. But they cannot get a permit to open up another one, down the road.

'Can't stand Obama'

Cheeseburger says of Mr Romney: "I've heard he's really friendly to coal so I am ready to give him a chance.

Start Quote

If he [Mitt Romney] can't sort it out in four years, we'll give some one else a chance”

End Quote John "Cheeseburger" Doyle Ohio mine foreman

"We've done alright but we're the exception. Just heard another mine just down the river laid off a bunch of guys. He's a businessman so I'm thinking right now we needs some jobs, I want to give a man who had businesses a chance to help us out.

"If he can't sort it out in four years, we'll give some one else a chance."

But Cheeseburger has another reason for not voting for Mr Obama. (The nickname? "Don't ask," he says, it's a long story. I do. It is.)

He is a Catholic and says his number one issue is abortion. That is more important than anything else, his job, the economy. "I have to sleep at nights, you know."

A man in a hard hat, I guess in his 50s, who does not want to give his name, seems to be making a careful consideration.

Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event in Lima, Ohio, 2 November Barack Obama is seen here campaigning in Lima, Ohio, on Friday

He is traditionally a Democrat and his wife is a teacher. Mr Obama would be better for her job. But it is not really at risk, and his is. So he will go for Mr Romney. Probably.

There is no doubt about Tim's vote - he cannot stand Obama: "I don't care for him.

"I don't think he has done a very good job. I think he's running this country into the ground. He wants to do away with burning coal for energy, and that's my livelihood."

He tells me Mr Obama will take away their guns, their hunting guns. I question this. After all, he has not done so in four years, why should he if he is re-elected ?

Oh, he has done stuff, he says, although he cannot say what. He tells me Mr Obama will do it because the United Nations has a plan to get rid of all guns.

This is the stuff of extreme right-wing conspiracy theorists since the 50s so I ask him where he gets this idea. It was in a pamphlet he got last night.

Which group was it from? He seems surprised. "Why the Democrats, I suppose, they were telling us what they were gonna do."

I cannot tell if he is an unwitting victim of black propaganda or just believes what he's long believed.

Lone Democrat

Ted is a lone voice at the mine, a tentative Obama supporter. Most of the men used to be Democrats, now he seems to be the only one.

"It is kind of a toss-up but my preference is still Obama," he says.

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"Romney has just been contradicted so many times by himself, that you don't know where you stand with him. He's not for the working class of people, I think Obama would stick by the working class and help us out."

He is not swayed by the argument that Mr Obama's green policies are hurting his industry.

"Of course our industry is in turmoil, but I think natural gas is what has waged a war on coal," he says.

"We can see that coming down the road - the Appalachian coalfields are going to get shut down because of price completion."

His vote is more about class solidarity in the face of market forces, the traditional politics of Democrats, than his job.

Mr Romney is right, there are votes to be mined, not just here but in coal country in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. But coal is not the only fuel that fires political views, long and deeply held.

The BBC will be providing full online live results of the US presidential election on 6 November. More details here

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  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    It must make a profit or die. That's why business sits on profits gained from downsizing. It fears our corrupt tax system.
    Apple is in no danger of dying and does not have to resort to the use of suicide factories.
    Sitting on profits does nothing whilst the economy goes down the pan.
    Companies are the most devious tax cheats on the planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    31. Peter
    Talk about over dramatic drivel (nod to B the 1st). OB is so much for the common auto worker that he paid off the UAW's pension plan for its support but eliminated the pensions of non-union auto workers. I love his compassion! Unions are losing ground in this country precisely because of this type of corruption. Wisconsin is a great example. Your analysis is a total fail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    I hope Mitt's apparent integrity is as advertised. If so maybe we can export it? :)
    Nope - would constitute a breach of the terms of the Trades Description Act.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    26. All
    You still don't get it. Gov set the playing field for business (people). Our Constitution and Bill of Rights sets the playing field for Gov. Business is Amoral, not immoral. It must make a profit or die. That's why business sits on profits gained from downsizing. It fears our corrupt tax system. OB has taken cronyism to new heights. Gov has stepped outside of its role as protector.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Obama scares the uneducated, racist, bigotted, bible thumpers in the US because the Red masters have whipped up their fury with lies and distortions. Romney scares the rest of us because we have memories and use critical thinking on a regular basis. This will not be close, and the Reds may well lose Senate and House seats. Auto workers outnumber coal miners in Ohio. Clean air beats dirty money

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    21. Scotch Git
    well said. I correspond with Brits, Germans and (occasionally) Italians. Admittedly on a random basis, but I see little evidence that the general disgust with politicians' inability to attempt to balance income against output from the smallest to the largest country is different from our disgust. I hope Mitt's apparent integrity is as advertised. If so maybe we can export it? :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Now, the understanding is simplistic and based on fear and hearsay

    Dripping with irony,as ever, Andrea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    21. Scotch Git

    Re: economic alliance with US.

    At least then people might have to actually learn about our economic system. Now, the understanding is simplistic and based on fear and hearsay -- ex., no medical treatment since no nationalized medicine. The benefits of our system elude them.

    As long as you don't try to pull an Obama on us and make us more like you.;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Fear of taking away guns not unlike fears of taking away abortion.

    MM, you just noticed that American voters are complex individuals? Better now than never.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.


    Not 'even' in Heaven, or in Equal Democracy, will people choose to invest to lose money!

    You raise a straw-man, unwittingly or not, to attack those who would much prefer our 'money-managers' NOT to be 'corrupted' (away from democratic interest) by 'conflict of interest'

    Do you not read the news, of massive endless corruption, fall-out in ruin, reliance on war 'to revive'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    but is symptomatic of the mind-set of an organization which demanded 9 billion euros to plug the hole
    So subsidising tax cuts for the wealthy and borrowing to support unnecessary wars is the way to go?
    The toxic £$ bombs were constructed on Wall St not the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    17. Peter
    Americans have been inundated by advertising since birth. That's why OB is losing now. We were willing to take his statements at face value because we've been told the government has instituted truth in advertising, lending and all manner of benefits on our behalf. Especially in the biggest ad of all, public ed! Fortunately, we are learning Big Gov is about feeding itself not us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Nixon won the election after the burglary before the election but he was forced to resign after Watergate. The tragedy at Banghaji happened before the election. Would Obama be forced to resign after it is confirmed that he lied about his handling of the Benghazi event and afterward?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I am disappointed in the BBC for the coverage of the American election. (I am an American living in the central US. I am admittedly mostly conservative in my political views.) I used to think the BBC was a good source of un-biased news. This election cycle, though, every Romney article seems to be negative and every Obama article seems positive. I hope things get better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.



    The link at #14 does not refer to an isolated incident, but is symptomatic of the mind-set of an organization which demanded 9 billion euros to plug the hole in this year's budget.

    Indeed, the Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU accounts for what, 17 years? 18?

    If we must form an economic alliance, let it be with the U.S.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Soundbites about the shape of bananas is lapped up by sections of the press and simpletons.

    A more objective approach is required

    Myths exposed for the hard of thinking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    1. balzac
    Can't you hear yourself??? "settle down to a relatively stress-free existence as an irrelevant nation on the fringe..."
    Britain and it's special relationship as our longtime ally and friend is a "love" of Americans. Myself included. We treasure England's contribution to us and the world. You should be ashamed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Remember Herbert Hoover? His campaign slogan was "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. We know what happened next; crash! Can you imagine how starry-eyed the voters were hearing all his b.s.? You would think, by now, that people would learn. But Romney keeps waving his magic wand and keeps telling us that only he has all the answers to all the problems, & people keep eating it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    7 and 8
    You both are perfectly correct. Unfortunately, far too many Americans are swayed so easily by advertising. They have been inundated with it from birth.
    Peter D

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    3. Sbanicki
    His release was adequate. OB just wanted to parse his returns for class warfare. We do know he is rich. What is more interesting is that OB has sealed ALL his records. What was he like in school? Remember Bush's C grades in college? What is on OB's passport application? What scholarships did he win and what was the work that merited it? Where are his research and dissertations?


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