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Obama campaign: Romney has 'a significant trust deficit'

Despite louder and more serious talk among Republican insiders about the possibility of a brokered convention, the Obama campaign once again kept its focus on Mitt Romney.

In a conference call today to respond to Romney’s speech on economic freedom today at the University of Chicago, the Obama campaign slammed Romney's tax plans today and said he faces "a significant trust deficit" with voters, particularly on the issue of gas prices.

"Gov. Romney did not mention the issue of energy and gas prices, and I think that's something that's on the mind of all Americans right now," said Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton economics professor, who was a member of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers before leaving the White House in February.

Rouse went on to argue that reducing America's dependence on foreign oil sources would ease the burden of price spikes – and she took aim at Romney for failing to address fuel costs.

But the White House was unable to pass a comprehensive energy policy through Congress even with broad Democratic majorities in the president’s first two years.

The conference call and focus on energy also come as rising gas prices threaten President Obama’s recent momentum and his upcoming tour of swing states to tout new proposals on the subject.

Asked if President Obama's efforts to address those costs are breaking through to the public, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt accused Republicans of failing to give the president credit for new drilling initiatives.

"They're completely distorting the record here," LaBolt said, specifically of GOP candidates of Obama's record on Gulf drilling. "And I think for a candidate like Mitt Romney who's already facing a significant trust deficit with voters across the ideological spectrum that that would compound his issues."

Without mentioning Newt Gingrich by name, LaBolt also took aim at "elected officials who are going out and saying gas is going to be $2.50 if they get elected."

On Solyndra, the energy company the president touted and went belly up after receiving a government grant, the campaign would only say that Romney would "turn his back on the clean-energy sector."

Responding specifically to his speech today, Rouse accused Romney of structuring a tax plan that would hurt middle-income Americans.

"His plan actually makes our tax system more regressive and really will not help out the middle class," she said.

And, touting the White House's regulatory reforms, she disputed the widely repeated GOP critique that regulation generally strangles job creation.

"There is not actually any evidence that regulatory burden actually has a meaningful impact on employment or on the economy now," she contended.