Responding to high gasoline prices and criticism from Republicans over the Keystone pipeline, President Barack Obama's re-election campaign held a media event Thursday accusing Mitt Romney of being a puppet of oil interests with no energy policy other than "drill, baby, drill."
At the downtown office of an energy efficient heating and cooling engineering company, state Rep. Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg bashed Romney's "shameless pandering to big oil donors who benefit from high gas prices."
Obama's Florida campaign has held two previous such events in Florida in the past week.
Asked whether the campaign was worried about the political effect of $4-a-gallon gasoline with the summer driving season approaching, Kriseman said that was not the purpose of the event but added that the campaign doesn't want Obama to take the blame.
"It's more about educating the public about what the president is doing and proposing" on energy and "educating the public about who their anger should be directed at," he said.
Kriseman said Obama is seeking to pursue an "all of the above" energy strategy including domestic oil production, conservation and alternative sources.
He said Senate Democrats have proposed limiting what he called unproductive oil industry subsidies and using the savings for alternative energy projects, but Republicans killed the idea.
He said Romney has become dependent on big oil contributions to fuel the expensive advertising campaigns he has used against his GOP primary opponents.
"His campaign is clearly not fueled by ideas or core principles. ... He thinks he can shake away all extreme positions he's taken just like the Etch-a-Sketch," Kriseman said, referring to a Romney adviser saying that switching to a general election campaign message would be like erasing the picture on an Etch-a-Sketch toy.
The Romney campaign responded with a quote from Romney at a Pennsylvania campaign event, saying Obama is "for all the energy sources above the ground ... solar and wind, ... but he doesn't like coal, oil, gas because they're below ground."
Obama, however, has received his share of oil and gas industry contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics -- $884,000 from industry executives during his 2008 campaign, the center reported.
But Kriseman contended that Romney has received more, and Obama has made it clear he won't do the industry's will in return. "I don't think you can say the same thing for Mitt Romney."
Kriseman appeared at the office of VoltAir Consulting Engineers, where executive Julius Davis said that under the Obama administration, domestic oil production has hit an eight-year high and dependence on foreign oil has reached a 16-year low.
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