BEALLSVILLE - While Tuesday's political rally was for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a short interlude from Ohio Treasurer and Senate candidate Josh Mandel proved prominently because of the importance of the latter's candidacy in the Republicans' overall election strategy.
After all, how often will a candidate for the nation's highest office yield way to a Senate candidate after he's already started his campaign speech?
That's just what happened Tuesday afternoon outside the Century Mine near Beallsville.
Photo provided by J.W. Johnson Jr.
Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, joins Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for a rally at Murray Energy Corp.’s Century Mine at Beallsville.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced Romney, who proceeded to make his introductory marks.
Then Mandel arrived, and Romney promptly gave way to the younger, energetic Mandel who wasted little time in whipping up the crowd.
"I'd appreciate everyone out there to support Governor Romney," Mandel began. "He understands that in Eastern Ohio and throughout the United States, coal equals jobs.
"There are a lot of radical organizations throughout this country, funded from Hollywood to New York, that have never set foot in Appalachian Ohio.
"They are trying to convince the American people that coal is a liability. We understand it is an asset. Governor Romney understands that it is an asset."
A spokesman later revealed some of the groups Mandel was referencing included the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
The Sierra Club's campaign "Beyond Coal" aims to paint the coal industry in a negative light, emphasizing pollution, mountaintop removal and health issues like asthma and black lung. It's a proponent of clean energy solutions.
Mandel is in a heated battle with incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
With the GOP currently in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats holding only a slight edge in the Senate, 51 to 47 seats (one independent and one independent Democrat), each Senate seat race is critical.
Campaign donations highlight this fact.
Estimates show that more than $10 million has been spent by conservative groups in support of Mandel as compared to $2.5 million for the Brown campaign.
The Brown vs. Mandel race is turning into one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in terms of overall contributions of this election season.
"Barack Obama and Sherrod Brown are waging a war on coal," Mandel said. "They think coal is a four-letter word.
"I'll tell you this, for any of these folks trying to stand between us and affordable, reliable, dependable energy, we have four words for them: over our dead bodies."
Mandel placed added emphasis on those final four words, drawing out a slight dramatic pause between each word and eliciting a spirited response from the crowd that included a large gathering of Century and Ohio Valley Coal miners and their families.
Hughes may be reached at email@example.com