OSKALOOSA, IA – President Obama seemed to reference the infamous tale of the Romney family dog riding on the roof of the presumptive GOP nominee's car for most of a road trip during an extended riff here on wind energy.
Criticizing Mitt Romney’s opposition to wind energy production tax credits, Obama also went personal, bringing up an anecdote about a Romney family vacation.
Obama mocked what he said was Romney’s wind energy policy, quoting him from a March 6 speech in Zanesville, Ohio when he said, “you can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.”
“That’s what he said about wind power,” Obama told about 850 supporters standing outside a classic, American flag-bedecked farmhouse at the Nelson Pioneer Farm Museum here.
“Now, I don’t know if he’s actually tried that. I know he’s had other things on his car,” Obama said as the crowd applauded, understanding the reference.
Liberal critics and Democratic groups supporting the president have pounced on the Seamus story to criticize Romney's character, suggesting Romney is insensitive, but this is the first time the president himself has referenced it himself. (Obama aides have previously invoked the story.)
But after the quick Seamus allusion, the president went right back to accusing Romney of not understanding the importance of wind energy in Iowa.
“If he wants to learn something about wind, all he’s got to do is pay attention to what you’ve been doing here in Iowa,” the president said, noting that the wind industry now supports 7,000 jobs in Iowa.
And new statistics from a Department of Energy report on wind power, which the president referred to Tuesday, also reflect the importance of wind as a policy and political issue: it’s one of the top two states when it comes to in-state wind energy generation, generating 18.8 percent in 2011, second only to South Dakota.
“If [Romney] knew what you’ve been doing, he’d know that 20 percent of Iowa’s electricity now runs on wind,” Obama said to applause. “Powering our homes and our factories, and our businesses in a way that is clean and renewable.”
In a statement the Romney campaign said Obama's Seamus reference showed that the president "will do anything to distract from his abysmal record."
"After sanctimoniously complaining about making a 'big election about small things,' President Obama continues to embarrass himself and diminish his office with un-presidential behavior," campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement.
After a series of local interviews here, the president heads to campaign events in Marshalltown and Waterloo, continuing to wind his way east through the state.