Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich assailed President Barack Obama on gas prices and energy policies as he sought to fuel support among California Republicans today.
"If you want $10-a-gallon gasoline, an anti-energy secretary and weakness requiring us to depend on foreigners for our energy, Barack Obama should be your candidate," the former House Speaker told a crowd during a luncheon at the California Republican Party convention in Burlingame.
Energy and gas prices have become a hot issue on the campaign trail amid rising prices at the pump. The average price of gas -- now at $3.58 a gallon -- has increased by 25 cents since the start of the New Year. Gas at a 76 station down the street from the convention site started at $4.49 a gallon.
Gingrich, who rolled out a pledge to drop gas prices to $2.50 a gallon earlier this week, spent much of the appearance responding to a speech on energy Obama delivered at the University of Miami earlier this week. The Democratic president dismissed calls to focus on expanding drilling, saying the country "can't just drill our way to lower gas prices." Instead, Obama said his administration is pursuing an "all-of-the-above strategy" on energy that includes solar, wind, gas and oil power.
Gingrich quoted extensively from the president's Friday speech and previous statements related to energy policy. He criticized the speech as "factually false, intellectually incoherent, deeply conflicting in policy and in some places, just strange."
Gingrich touted his energy policy, which includes upping domestic oil production and greenlighting the Keystone Pipeline XL project, as a way to reduce reliance on foreign energy sources and lower the cost of fuel for Americans. He said his proposals will cut back on regulations and lead to more economic growth.
He did not directly call on California to expand drilling off its coast, but said he thinks "each state has to make its own decision." He added, however, that under his proposal to give states 50 percent of the royalties from the arrangement "Sacramento would start thinking seriously" about the issue.
Absent from the speech were mentions of his opponents, who are campaigning elsewhere this weekend ahead of Tuesday contests in Arizona and Michigan. Gingrich, who has suffered losses in recent primary contests and slipped to 12 percent support in a Field Poll of California voters released this week, said he came to the state GOP convention to demonstrate his commitment to building a national campaign. He said he does not believe any candidate will have a "lockdown" on the nomination by the time California Republicans go to the polls June 5.