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Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and a longtime member of the Senate Finance Committee, also has taken issue with Mr. Romney’s stance on wind energy, arguing that “it’s not right to single out one energy incentive over others before a broader tax-reform debate.”

David Yepsen, a longtime columnist with the Des Moines Register who now serves as the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said Mr. Romney’s opposition to giving tax credits to wind-energy producers could exacerbate his reputation in Iowa of being out of touch with rural, middle-class voters.

“In Iowa, people of both parties have really embraced this idea of wind energy and fostering its development,” he told The Washington Times. “To win a presidential election you need someone who understands the problems of rural America — and wind energy is that way. There are certain touchstones you need to talk about and be fluent in, and wind energy is now one of them.”