FORT LUPTON, Colo. -- President Obama this afternoon announced his support of same-sex marriage. But Mitt Romney here in this swing state reiterated his opposition to it.
Romney's message here at a carefully calibrated appearance was to tout his energy policy. But Colorado has been embroiled in a contentious fight over civil unions that stretched into midnight last night in the Colorado House. Republicans in the House here effectively ended the bid for civil unions last night by blocking a vote on the measure.
It was something Romney was asked about in four separate local TV interviews.
“I think people have differing views on marriage, and I respect people's different views," Romney told Denver NBC affiliate KUSA. "When I served as governor of my state, this issue arose -- same sex marriage and civil unions. I pointed out that I'm in favor of traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and I don't favor civil union or gay marriage.”
He added, "I know that a lot of people have questions on social issues and differing views, and I understand these are very tender and personal issues and people are entitled to reach their own conclusions and their own views.
Romney told a local FOX reporter that while he did not support civil unions like those which the Colorado bill would have allowed, he does support certain rights for gay couples, like hospital-visitation rights.
"[W]hen these issues were raised in my state of Massachusetts, I indicated my view, which is I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name" Romney said. "My view is the domestic partnership benefits, hospital-visitation rights and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not."
When pressed by reporters after his event here today, Romney refused to comment further on his views on the North Carolina constitutional amendment, passed last night, which bans same-sex marriage and civil unions, or the president's upcoming interview today.
Romney's position opposed to same-sex marriage has been consistent since his days as Massachusetts governor, when he fought unsuccessfully to block or reverse a state Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage in the Bay State.
But in his 1994 Senate bid, he wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, in which he declared he'd be better on gay rights, which he equated to "civil rights," than his opponent -- the late Ted Kennedy.
“I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent," Romney wrote. He added: “I believe we can and must to better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gay and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”
With the interviews concluded, Romney pressed on with a speech focused on energy policy. In his first visit to this energy-rich, November battleground state since losing Colorado's caucus to Rick Santorum in February, Romney called an expansion of oil and gas production key to jumpstarting the economy, and doubled down on his attack on what he called President Obama's "old and outdated perspective."
In his brief remarks here, standing on the site of an old oil and gas well, Romney called for expanding drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gulf of Mexico, and off the continental shelf. He praised the expansion of drilling and exploration for natural gas -- a major industry here at the foot of the Rocky Mountains -- and predicted the jobs and low-cost energy created by growing the domestic energy industry could also fuel a boom in manufacturing.
"If we have low cost energy, which is a major input for all sorts of manufacturing you’re going to see a resurgence of manufacturing in America," Romney said. "America has lost manufacturing jobs we’re going to bring them back with a powerhouse of energy that is going to fuel a growth in manufacturing like we have not seen in decades."
Romney's also accused the Obama administration of failing to adapt policy to match modern energy production techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which have the potential to reshape America's production and consumption of energy in the future.
"I happen to think that the president’s policies are shaped by a perspective that’s old and outdated," Romney said. "You see, liberals in the past thought we didn’t have that much energy in this country and therefore we would have to go begging around the world to the people that have it."
Romney made only passing mention of renewable fuels in his vision for America's energy future - beyond taking a swipe at the failed, administration-backed solar energy company Solyndra, and Democrats seized on his comments today as further evidence of what they said was Romney's fealty to big oil, and the donations the industry has funneled to Romney's campaign.
"The real question is why Mitt Romney has embraced a backward-looking strategy of pushing to give more tax breaks to the big oil and gas companies and eliminate protections against Wall Street speculators manipulating oil prices. These policies may help the big oil donors that Mitt Romney has cultivated, but they will do nothing to relieve middle class families’ pain at the pump,” Obama campaign spokesperson Lis Smith said in a statement.
Expect the war over energy -- and who's polices would be better for consumers at the gas pump and beyond -- to continue. This afternoon Romney holds another campaign event in yet another major oil and gas producing state, Oklahoma. Tonight, he'll attend a fundraiser there Harold Hamm, who made billions in shale oil development, and is one of Romney's top energy advisers.