ZANESVILLE, Ohio -- Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan pushed energy issues here in this community where oil and natural gas are providing hope for a new economic boom as he started a two-day campaign swing through southern and central Ohio.
The trip includes a rally in Findlay at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Koehler Athletic Complex of the University of Findlay, 1000 N. Main St. Doors open at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the Findlay Victory Center, 404 S. Main St., Findlay, or by visiting www.mittromney.com/OH.
Muskingum County, where Zanesville is located, sits atop the gas and oil rich Utica Shale formation that is now accessible to drilling by way of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Mr. Ryan told a crowd of several hundred in Zanesville High School that presidential nominee Mitt Romney's plan would emphasize domestic energy, and he would have approved the XL Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas, for which permits were denied earlier this year by the Obama administration.
"He tried to get a new national energy tax on all our energy consumption," Mr. Ryan said, referring to the "cap and trade" bill that would have put restrictions on pollution emissions at power plants and factories that burn coal. "He didn’t get that one through the Senate, he got it through the House."
Mr. Ryan said, "we know if the President gets re-elected he’ll keep regulating coal out of existence."
Mr. Obama has said "clean coal" is part of his "all of the above" plan for energy independence. The Obama campaign said coal jobs have increased 11.5 percent in Ohio in 2012 compared with mining employment in 2008.
Mr. Ryan warned that the rising national debt will be an economic burden for the next generation.
"We’ve got to balance the budget. We have an obligation.Just remember, today’s deficits are nothing more than tomorrow’s tax increase," Mr. Ryan said. Referring to the children in the room, he said, "we know we are giving them a diminished future. We have never done that in this country before."
The Obama campaign said it is the Romney tax plan that will deepen the nation's deficit.
“Paul Ryan tried to pull the wool over the eyes of people in Zanesville today by peddling the failed Romney-Ryan agenda which would result in higher taxes for middle class families to pay for $250,000 tax cuts for multi-millionaires, deep cuts to investments in education and energy that we need to grow our economy, and turning Medicare into a voucher program," said Obama Ohio spokesman Jessica Kershaw.
It's at least Mr. Ryan's 13th trip to Ohio since Mr. Romney picked him as running mate in mid-August.
Mr. Ryan spoke to a crowd in New Philadelphia, about 60 miles south of Akron and then in Zanesville, with stops planned during the day in Circleville and Yellow Springs.
Mr. Romney will join Mr. Ryan in Marion Sunday. The GOP presidential nominee also is scheduled to address rallies in the Cleveland area on Monday and Lima and Dayton on Tuesday, interspersed with campaign trips to Wisconsin and Virginia.
Clint Cameron, 49, an oil and gas producer in Zanesville, said he's counting on Mr. Romney to help keep the industry growing.
"He'd be more open-minded," Mr. Cameron said. He cited President Obama's denial of a permit for the XL Keystone pipeline. Mr. Cameron could identify no taxes or regulations that had been imposed on him by the Obama administration.
"Obama, he's had four years. I don't think we need another four years of stuff that's not going the right way," Mr. Cameron said.
Muskingum County had a September unemployment rate of 8.4 percent, compared with 7 percent for the state. The county went for Republican John McCain over then-Sen. Barack Obama by 54-46 percent in 2008.
Warm-up speaker Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor reminded voters of Ohio's importance as the key Republican swing state.
"The whole world is watching Ohio. We have a big responsibility. Do this for the rest of the country," said Ms. Taylor, who told the crowd she has a message for Mr. Obama: "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."
Ms. Taylor also sought to counter Democrats' outreach to women.
"It's happened in the last four years under this administration. Among women, we've had the highest poverty rate among women than the last 17 years, over 500,000 women have lost their jobs in the last four years," Ms. Taylor said.
President Obama is to rally with former President Clinton in Youngstown on Monday, while Vice President Joe Biden is to campaign in Wooster and Gambier, Ohio, on Tuesday. President Obama will return to Ohio Wednesday for rallies in Cincinnati and Akron.