Salena Zito

Not mentioned at that event was that the foreign-owned wind-turbine manufacturer operated largely because of a $22.8 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That stimulus money followed $10 million in grants, loans and tax credits from the Rendell administration to establish three plants promising to create 1,250 jobs within seven years.

So far, the company has underperformed by more than 400 jobs. Last week, it scrapped its third wind-turbine installation in a month, claiming uncertainty due to the possible end of federal tax credits that have facilitated wind-power development for more than 10 years.

Wind provides less than 1 percent of the state’s energy needs — so that’s the kind of thing that causes Bucks County swing-voters to give Romney a good, hard look. Especially when he talks about energy jobs in shale, coal and natural gas that promise prosperity across the state.

Back in his campaign bus, Romney was clearly comfortable with what transpired at the Wawa.

“I love meeting people that way,” he said.

“I sat with a roundtable of small-business people from Pennsylvania earlier today and asked them to give me their perspective … they said that they are frustrated because they feel as though the government sees them as the enemy.” After clearly savoring a Wawa meatball sandwich, Romney began eating handfuls of peanut M&Ms from a glass jar sitting on a counter beside boxes of Rice Krispies, Cocoa Puffs and Raisin Bran cereals.

“Gov. Rendell said we could win Pennsylvania,” the Republican candidate said. “I think he is right.

“These are the voters who feel left behind, and that is why I am coming out here to get to know them.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.