By Justin Sink - 03/19/12 01:09 PM EDT
The ad suggests that three top Obama officials — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson — should resign over rising energy prices.
"Three of President Obama’s top energy advisers have supported policies that make it harder for the United States to utilize our natural resources and keep energy costs low. It is clear that the 'Gas Hike Trio' are only interested in raising energy prices and should resign," the Romney campaign said in a statement.
In the ad, onscreen text suggests the administration officials supported policies that would limit domestic oil exploration, raise gasoline prices and drive up electricity prices through regulations.
"I think it’s time for him to fire his Gas Hike Trio. It’s time for those three to be let go and to return to policies that get us the energy we need," Romney is then shown saying at a campaign stop in Collinsville, Ill.
The ad is intended to seize on the issue of rising fuel prices, a potent political liability for the president. But Newt Gingrich, who has spent the past month advocating for his energy plan — which he says would drive gas prices down to $2.50 per gallon — has started to develop ownership of the issue.
Nationwide gas prices continued to rise Monday, hitting $3.84 per gallon as a national average.
Earlier this month, while campaigning in Georgia, Romney suggested Gingrich's plan 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.
But experts have suggested that it could be years before the effect of additional production is realized in the world markets, and it's possible that additional American production would simply be offset by reductions abroad.
Nevertheless, President Obama acknowledged in a press conference earlier this month that the issue could cause trouble on the campaign trail.
"Just from a political perspective, do you think the president of the United States, going into reelection, wants gas prices to go up even higher?" Obama said. "Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?”