Obama closes tour with swing-state pitch for green energy

He attacked his 2012 Republican White House rivals, without naming names, as promoters of unrealistic, drilling-only approaches that would not bring down gasoline prices — remarks that echoed jabs Obama threw in a campaign-style speech in Maryland last week.

“I will not accept an energy strategy that traps us in the past. We are not going to do it. So as long as I am president, America is going to be pursuing an all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Obama said in the speech.

The speech was Obama’s fourth in two days on the tour, which represents a major escalation of White House attempts to ward off further political damage to Obama from voter discontent with rising gasoline prices.

Obama accused his GOP rivals for the presidency of dismissing the promise of renewable energy and efficient cars.

“If these guys were around when Columbus set sail they would be charter members of the Flat Earth Society,” Obama said, speaking after he toured the university’s Center for Automotive Research.

“They want to double down on the same ideas that got us exactly into this mess that we have been in and we have are digging our way out of,” he said. “That is not who we are as Americans.”

Obama’s tour was carefully calibrated to emphasize his support for green energy while trying to blunt GOP attacks by equally promoting oil-and-gas development.

Obama spoke Thursday morning in Cushing, Okla., where he pledged to expedite approval of an oil pipeline from that region to Gulf Coast refineries, while the prior evening Obama delivered short remarks at a New Mexico oilfield to tout his support for expanded oil and natural-gas drilling.

The tour began Wednesday at a Nevada solar power plant.

The Obama administration sought to back up his Ohio State University speech Thursday with a series of funding announcements this week.

They announced $35 million in support over three years for R&D into advanced biofuels and other bio-based products; $14.2 million in Energy Department funding “to accelerate the development and deployment of stronger and lighter materials” for advanced vehicles; and $450 million in Energy Department funding for development and licensing of small modular nuclear reactors.