MOLINE, Ill. – Mitt Romney doubled down on his critique of President Barack Obama’s energy policy at a campaign stop in western Illinois on Sunday, accusing the president of keeping a campaign promise to raise gas prices if elected.
"There's one promise he's kept. One promise he's kept. When he campaigned he said he wanted to raise the price of gasoline. He said that under him, energy costs would skyrocket. And then he brought in a trio of people to help him implement those policies," Romney said at a pancake breakfast here.
An independent fact check by the Washington Post awarded three Pinocchios – the newspaper’s measure, on a scale of one to five, that measures accuracy – to a similar claim by a Louisiana congressman that the president "got his wish" with $4-per-gallon-gasoline. The Romney campaign did not respond to a request to clarify when Obama made such a claim.
In a January 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, then-candidate Obama said his cap-and-trade plan would cause electricity costs to rise, but he did not reference gas prices.
"Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," Obama told the Chronicle. "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."
In this 2008 interview with the San Francisco editorial board, then candidate Obama said his cap-and-trade plan would result in higher electricity rates. He did not, however, mention gas prices.
This morning on Face the Nation, the Obama campaign's chief strategist David Axelrod dismissed allegations that the president wanted higher gas prices as "nonsense" and accused Romney of pandering with his recent focus on gas prices as a stump-speech topic.
In recent days, Romney has taken aim not only at President Obama, but has also started to call for the resignation or dismissal of the so-called "gas hike trio" – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson – for their roles in holding back domestic energy production.
"This trio has worked very hard to implement the president's view of raising the cost of energy. Now the other night, (Obama) decided to change course," Romney said. "This gas hike trio has got to resign or get fired. We've got to get them out and get people in who will bring down the cost of gasoline."
As the price of gasoline has risen in the last few weeks, so too has the rhetoric of gas prices, perhaps the ultimate kitchen-table economic issue.
Newt Gingrich has been campaigning on a promise to restore $2.50 gasoline, and Romney has pledged regularly to open up more federal land for drilling. Rick Santorum yesterday lumped President Obama and Romney together on the issue, saying their energy policies were the same.
Today, Romney looked to connect with his audience over the issue, describing his conversations with everyday folks who were struggling with higher gas prices – now $3.83 per gallon on average, according to AAA, the automobile association.
"I remember the teacher who had been out of work and she said that she could get opportunities to teach on a temporary basis, but when she considers the cost of gasoline to get to the job and back, it doesn’t make sense to go off unemployment,” Romney said. “You’ve got moms that are driving their kids to school and practice after school and other appointments and wonder how they can afford putting gasoline in the car, at the same time putting food on the table night after night. The American people are struggling.”