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GOP pounces on Biden’s coal remarks

A comment from Sen. Joseph Biden on his opposition to clean coal sparked two conference calls from the McCain-Palin camp Tuesday afternoon.

Sen. George Voinovich and State Sen. John Carey joined Republican National Convention co-chair Jo Ann Davidson in their criticism of Biden, who last week while campaigning told someone on a campaign line that “We’re not supporting ‘clean coal.’”

Biden also said that the clean coal technology developed in the United States should be shipped to China where coal plants flourish.

“I think Sen. Biden over the years has been an opponent of coal,” Voinovich said in a conference call with Ohio media in which The Tribune participated. “His position on this is contrary even to the governor of Ohio. The governor has included clean coal, coal where we are able to get captured the carbon and sequester it. … if you look at his voting record, he has voted that he is no friend of coal.”

Voinovich denied the Republicans were trying to take advantage of a misstatement by the senator.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think he really understands we have 250 years of coal in this country. This is a real issue I think needs to be addressed. Joe Biden reflects at least the opinion of a large group of people who support Sen. Obama.”

The Obama campaign went on the offensive calling the McCain comments false.

“Sen. McCain knows that Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden support clean coal technology,” according to an Obama campaign statement. “ Sen. Biden’s point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology every day and the United States needs to lead by developing clean coal technologies.”

In a second telephone call with reporters, Republican National Chairman Mike Duncan announced the campaign was starting state-by-state coalitions to “protect coal jobs involving people in various coal states, mostly an education process, policy and political leaders. You will see that rolled out this week.”