In this down-to-the-wire race for the White House, Pennsylvania was long considered a solid blue state by the Obama camp. But the political winds started to shift after the first presidential debate and Democrats saw their double-digit lead evaporate.

In the 2008 election, Obama carried Pennsylvania by 10 percent over Sen. John McCain. Recent poll numbers show the state is up for grabs. Romney got new amunition for his late push from last Friday's job numbers, which showed Pennsylvania's unemployment rate (8.2 percent) surpassing the national average (7.9 percent) in September after remaining below average throughout the recession.

One political analyst said that Ohio has always been considered the fire wall for the Democrats' re-election strategy, but they never counted on Romney's momentum jumping that fire wall into Pennsylvania.

In 2008, residents of the state were on an Obama high, like so many others looking for "change." Now, four years later, voters have sobered up to Obama's record, which is an open book for all to see.No voting group typifies the label "blue collar" more than the coal miners. When an Obama ad charged that a group of 500 miners in Beallsville, Ohio, were forced to participate in a Romney campaign rally, they immediately fired off a letter to the Obama campaign stating that it was a lie. These miners are not alone in their disgust with the Obama administration

Coal provides nearly 50 percent of America's power. What the proud coal miners of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia do want the nation to know is that the regulations under the Obama administration does represent a "war on coal," placing thousands of miners' jobs in jeopardy.

The fact that coal miners and mining companies are supporting Romney over Obama is no surprise since one promise that Obama did follow through on in presidential campaign of four years ago was to bring down the coal industry: In Obama's own words: "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

Along with his constant gaffes and fact fumbling on the campaign trail, Vice-president Joe Biden often cites his strong hometown roots in the coal fields of Northeastern Pa. for his success. Sen. Robert Casey has the same roots but why both men support Obama's policies that strangle the coal industry is a turnoff to many state voters who see them coveting their political futures above the working class people they should be representing.

Coal miners and average voters like a candidate who is direct and honest with them. What they can't stand are professional politicians who sell out to special interests, such as the environmentalists, who are costing us tons of blue collar jobs.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]