N2K Presidential: Romney’s Chances in Iowa: Gone With the Wind?

National Journal Staff
National Journal

On the question of extending the wind production tax credit — an important issue for Iowans because of the roughly 7,000 jobs tied to the state's wind-energy industry — the two presidential candidates have made their positions perfectly clear: Obama supports it, and Romney does not.

Romney’s stance, however faithful to free-market principles, puts the presumptive GOP nominee at odds not only with Obama, but with his own supporters in the state who wasted little time in conveying their displeasure. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa,  seethed that Romney's position "shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation."

Iowa Republicans long ago diagnosed the alternative-energy dilemma: They don't want to be seen as enablers of corporate welfare, but they can't afford to ardently oppose a job-creating industry with high visibility in their state. Navigating this no-win situation, they reached an agreeable compromise: Support temporary tax credits while the industry is still finding its footing, but advocate for the gradual phase-out of federal funding.

Romney's stance is perplexing, to say the least. Here is a politician defined by his ideological pliancy, known for his moderate approach and willingness to find malleable middle ground. Yet faced with an issue that demands a certain flexibility, he has instead pigeonholed himself with a position that is overwhelmingly unpopular in a critical battleground state. Even if Romney walks back his opposition, he'll face fresh charges of flip-flopping and pandering. It's a lose-lose.

His position is not entirely without support. But in an election that very well could hinge on the Hawkeye State's six electoral votes, the path of least resistance isn't a bad place to be. Read more

— Tim Alberta


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