The last major policy rollout for Mitt Romney prior to the Republican Tampa convention is his project for energy independence.
The issue is advantageous to the Republican challenger for a number of reasons:
First, there is little downside. The pro-environment voters have already been locked up by Barack Obama, particularly after the president delayed the Keystone XL Pipeline project from Canada to the Gulf. The very strong environmental states, such as California, have long been considered a lost cause by the Republicans.
Energy is an issue on which most voters have already expressed a preference for Mitt Romney over President Obama. Gas prices are rising during the summer vacation and this makes the public receptive to the plans to achieve energy independence tendered by Mr. Romney.
Romney gets to tie this issue to additional issues. He contrasts his realistic approach to Obama's "pie-in-the-sky" approach about backing such losers as Solyndra, the California company that went bankrupt together with half a billion in federal guarantees.
"He’s taken federal dollars, your money, to advance these companies — solar companies, wind companies — $90 billion in so-called green jobs…I don’t want the government investing in companies, particularly companies of his campaign contributors."
Americans are not Europeans who are willing to martyr themselves by accepting higher energy costs in the hope of curbing greenhouse emissions. The US, under Clinton, did not sign the Kyoto protocol, and together with other countries, the US is fighting the EU carbon tax.
When Mitt Romney states that the United States will not be dependent on Middle Eastern oil or on Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, he finds a receptive chord in American public opinion. Americans would much rather have Canada as a supplier of energy via Keystone, supplementing their own homegrown sources than dubious current alternatives.
Most importantly, the energy plan interfaces with the candidate's emphasis on jobs. "Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet. That's oil and gas and coal. We're going to make it happen. We're going to create those jobs."