Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich blamed the Obama Administration for the recent spike in oil prices and promised supporters at the California Republican Convention today that he would sign an executive order if elected to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.
With dozens of supporters holding “$2.50 a gallon” signs behind him during his speech at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport Hotel Saturday, Gingrich admonished what he called the Obama Administration’s systemic failure in energy policy, and accused it of deliberately raising gas prices.
“When you fill up your tank, you can think of gas prices as the Obama tax,” he said.
The national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $3.67 as of today, according to AAA.
Gingrich told the crowd of about 450 supporters that America must claim independence from the Middle East and other oil producing countries, and show that “if the strait of Hormuz were to be closed, we frankly wouldn’t care.”
In January, Iran threatened to close the strategic oil shipping route. The Pentagon plans to bolster US defenses around the Strait of Hormuz to prepare for a potential closure, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
Gingrich also criticized Obama for recently apologizing to Afghans after anti-American protests erupted throughout Afghanistan earlier this week when Qurans were found burning in a garbage pit at a U.S. military base.
“If you believe that America is weak and we should go around apologizing to the world, then Barack Obama is your candidate,” Gingrich said.
He emphasized that Obama’s strict oil exploration and drilling policies are inexorably linked to higher gas prices and greater reliance on foreign oil.
“We need to go on an all out effort to produce our own energy so we don’t care what Iran does,” he said.
Gingrich wants to ease restrictions on off-shore drilling and eliminate the ban on oil shale development in the American West. Oil shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks from which combustible gas can be extracted. But although abundant, shale oil costs more to extract than crude oil, according to the World Energy Council.
Gingrich also ridiculed Obama for believing alternative energy sources, such as Algae-based fuels, will solve America’s energy needs. Although Gingrich believes in investing in alternative-fuel technology, it is implausible that it will be a scalable energy source in the next decade, he said.
“The president is for any fantasy that doesn't work today. Solyndra might work in 30 years,” Gingrich said.
Sharing a displeasure for Obama’s Administration, former Republican candidate Herman Cain also attended the convention to support Gingrich.
“Our biggest domestic challenge is the sluggish economy,” Cain said. “Newt’s economic plan starts with the same premise mine started with. We haven’t gotten Newt all the way to the 9-9-9 plan, but he’s closer than everyone else.”
Gingrich criticized other Republican candidates for “ignoring California” and focusing only on “Republican” states.
“I am running to be a president of all the people,” he said. “I want to run an American campaign, which has to be designed to reach every American to give them the choice.”
After today’s speech, Gingrich will fly to Georgia, one of the 10 states to hold primary elections on Super Tuesday. His sole victory was in South Carolina on Jan. 21. Arizona and Michigan will hold their primaries on Feb. 28.