When Mitt Romney declared during his first debate with President Obama that “I like coal,” it caused Senator John F. Kerry to cock his ear because it didn’t quite ring true with his understanding of the Republican presidential nominee’s record.
This past week, when Romney again expressed his affinity for the coal industry during their second debate, Obama pounced.
“When I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy,” the president said, “keep in mind, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, ‘This plant kills,’ and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.”
ll that helps explain why Obama tapped Kerry for such an important role, why the criticism of him for the president’s first failing rang hollow with White House advisers, and why they heaped praise on Kerry after Obama rebounded in the second debate — as typified by the coal answer.
Today, the senator is waking up at Camp David for the final day of a three-day cram session with Obama before Monday’s debate.
He never made it to the presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains as president himself, but he did by transforming himself into the adversary Obama must defeat if he is to keep his own visiting privileges during the next four years.