John McCain's flippant remark in Pittsburgh about our exporting cigarettes to Iran is "a way of killin' 'em" may or may not have much shelf life beyond this week. Pittsburgh didn't seem to make much of the comments. In a CBS affiliate interview the next day, they were brought up briefly, but only in the context of the press making issues of non-issues. McCain moved beyond his "joke" and attempted to endear himself with Steeler Nation by pointing out that during his captivity in Vietnam, he told his jailers the names of the Steeler Defensive linemen when he was being pressured to name his comrades.
More interesting was McCain's plan for Pennsylvania come November. The Pittsburgh region still relies a great deal on the coal industry, from steel to electric production and beyond. McCain's energy plan includes the use of clean coal technology currently being developed in the region and at nearby West Virginia University in Morgantown.
In the Democratic primary, Barack Obama did not fare well in the Western Pennsylvania, although that may be attributed to issues other than coal. In the fall, a candidate with a platform based on promoting industries that are perceived as the life's blood of the region would be difficult to defeat. Pennsylvania remains a must-win state, and Pittsburgh would be a must win city for Obama given the conservative majority that lives i the state outside the urban centers.