Gingrich targets ad hitting Obama on gas prices to Southern primary states

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Gingrich's campaign pointed to a recent We Ask America poll showing Gingrich tied with Rick Santorum and just a point behind Mitt Romney in Tuesday's Tennessee primary as justification for the buy. Mississippi and Alabama hold their contests on March 13.

The ad itself touts Gingrich’s pledge to drive gas prices down to $2.50 per gallon, which the former Speaker says could be accomplished by further opening up federal lands and offshore areas to oil drilling

“Since Barack Obama’s inauguration, gas prices have doubled,” a narrator says as a picture of a gas pump displays prices scrolling upward. An image of Obama meeting with leaders in Saudi Arabia then fades in.

“They didn’t go down when Obama bowed to Saudi oil princes. But they can go down under the Newt Gingrich $2.50 per gallon plan,” the narrator continues.

The ad then details aspects of Gingrich’s plan, including building the Keystone oil pipeline and cutting “red-tape regulations.”

The ad began airing Monday and will continue through voting in Tennessee on Tuesday. The campaign did not give specific details about the planned buys.

Last week, Gingrich said Obama should fire Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar over rising fuel prices.

Gingrich also bought ad time in key primary states to air a 30-minute speech detailing his energy proposal, although his plan has drawn criticism from skeptics.

Many experts say federal policymakers have few options to lower gas prices in the short term. Gas prices are largely tethered to oil prices, which are set on global markets. Even a dramatic expansion of domestic oil-and-gas leasing would have little short-term effect on gas prices, they said.

The president last month accused Republicans of exploiting the issue for political gain.

“Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said.

“You pay more and they’re licking their chops. And you can bet since it’s an election year, they’re already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas — I’ll save you the suspense: step one is drill, step two is drill and then step three is keep drilling.”