Looks like the race towards Super Tuesday is revving up to high speed — and what does a high-speed race need? Lots of gas. After Mitt Romney criticized Newt Gingrich yesterday for “pandering” by promising a specific price of gasoline at a specific time, Gingrich reached back into his January strategy and blasted Romney for being too rich to care about gas prices at all:
Newt Gingrich on Monday offered a blistering rebuttal to Mitt Romney’s critique of his $2.50 per-gallon gas plan, suggesting Romney was “rich enough” to be unconcerned with rising gas prices.
“Well look, if you’re Mitt Romney and you’re rich enough, maybe you don’t get it,” Gingrich said on Fox News.
Romney had said Sunday, while campaigning in Georgia that Gingrich’s plan – which the former speaker said would drive down gas prices by opening up additional federal and offshore lands to oil drilling – was a “pander.” But Gingrich sharply contested that critique, saying he would happily debate Romney on rising fuel prices.
“If Romney wants to run as the candidate of high price gasoline, that’s fine with me. We’ll lump him up with Barack Obama, which is the same thing as ‘RomneyCare’ and ‘ObamaCare,’ maybe it’s Romney-high-priced-gasoline and Obama-high-priced-gasoline,” Gingrich continued.
The Hill’s video is cleaner, but not embeddable, so be sure to watch it at the link if you need more clarity in the audio.
What did Romney say to prompt this attack? Did he say, Let them burn ethanol? Not really:
“I’d like to get gas prices down, all right? That’s number one. And I don’t think we want to see them go up. We have a president and his secretary of energy who like the idea of higher and higher gas prices. Americans are really suffering because of the direction of gas prices and I’m afraid that what you’re going to see over the coming months and perhaps even years will reflect the fact that this president has cut back on licensing in federal lands, cut back on drilling,” Romney said, answering a question at a pancake brunch at Brookwood High School. …
“I want to take advantage of our energy resources by opening up drilling, offshore, [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], create more licenses in federal lands, get people drilling for more energy in this country,” said Romney. “It’s going to take a while for that to come into the system. I want to get that pipeline coming in from Canada.”
“I’m not going to come here and pander to you and say here’s what your gasoline price will be if I do all those things,” Romney continued. “But I can tell you this: If we develop that energy here in the United States, we’ll help hold prices down, we’ll also keep the money here in the United States, creating jobs here instead of outside the United States.”
Romney seemed to be referring to Gingrich’s energy plan and his subsequent new campaign slogan and logos unveiled in February that tout his promise of a $2.50 per gallon gas price.
So no, Romney isn’t saying he doesn’t care about gas prices, or that he wants gas prices to stay high. That’s just intellectually dishonest spin from Newt, and another class-warfare attack piled on top of it. It’s beginning to look as though class warfare is an instinctive response for Gingrich, and it’s exactly what we don’t need in this presidential election. Perhaps Gingrich thinks that adopting the rhetoric of the Occupy movement will help him with conservatives, but it didn’t help much after South Carolina, did it?