Mitt Romney seized on rising gas prices as a political opportunity, but who wouldn’t when President Barack Obama knows that Americans are struggling and paying more at the pump.
“When he campaigned he said he wanted to raise the price of gasoline,” Romney said of Obama at a pancake breakfast here Sunday. “He said that under him energy costs would skyrocket.”
Obama has offered up contradictory remarks on energy policy. He pushed for a cap-and-trade policy that he said would make electricity rates “skyrocket.”
“Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” Obama said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008 . “Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”
The president has also explicitly said he wants cheaper gasoline. “Look, here’s the bottom line with respect to gas prices,” Obama said in a press conference in early March, “I want gas prices lower because they hurt families.”
Romney has regularly expressed concerns about the president’s energy policy, saying he’s made it tougher to gain permits to drill and played favorites with energy companies such as the bankrupt Solyndra that received government support. But his rhetoric on the issue has gotten increasingly caustic rhetoric over the past month.
In late February, the former Massachusetts governor blamed high gas prices on supply and demand and events in oil-producing countries that can disrupt supply lines.
In Georgia earlier this month, Romney vowed not to pander about the price of gas, a dig at his opponent Newt Gingrich who has promised to deliver $2.50 a gallon gasoline if elected president.
On Sunday, Romney opted to tear into Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Lisa Jackson, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This gas hike trio has got to resign or get fired,” he said. “We’ve got to get them out and get people in who will bring down the cost of gasoline.”
Romney relied on a handful of anecdotes to illustrate his concern about rising gas prices, part of an effort to better connect with voters.