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Romney on Keystone: ‘I will build that pipeline if I have to myself’

Mitt Romney drew a line in the oil sands on Friday, focusing on the controversial Keystone pipeline project opposed by the White House and saying, “I will build that pipeline if I have to myself.”

Romney blasted Obama on a range of policies during a speech to the Republican National Committee’s State Chairmen’s National Meeting in Arizona, but singled out the controversial project that would route Canadian oil sands south to Gulf Coast refineries.

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The White House earlier this year rejected making a decision on the pipeline until the project had been reviewed, a process expected to take at least until after the November elections. But House Republicans this week, when pushing through legislation to extend needed federal transportation program funding, included a mandate to approve the pipeline.

Romney pledged that he would expand drilling for gas and oil as president and would buy oil from Canada. He attacked what Obama has frequently termed his administration’s commitment to an “all of the above” energy plan.

“It does not seem like an all of the above energy policy to me,” Romney said. “And then I figured it out: The president does like all of the above. He likes all of the energy sources that come from above the ground. So anything below the ground he doesn’t like: Coal, oil, gas. We all like wind and solar. But we also like those below the ground.”

Romney went on to blast Obama on his foreign policy, military spending, and over education and unions.

“One of the most dangerous aspects of the road we’re on is represented by a president and party who unfortunately take their direction far too often from union chief executive officers,” he said. “That’s where they get their money, hundreds of millions of dollars, and that’s where they pay their obedience.”

Romney cited the National Labor Relations Board’s complaint against airline manufacturer Boeing for moving their expansion factory to South Carolina against the union’s wishes, a controversial case that South Carolina’s Republican governor helped make a national issue in the presidential campaign. The NLRB has since dropped the complaint,
and the Obama administration denied playing a role in the decision.

He also accused the administration of bowing to demands of the teachers union by shutting down Washington’s charter school program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, an important topic to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who fought to get the program reinstated. Boehner endorsed Romney earlier this week.

“He is very clearly out of ideas, out of excuses,” Romney concluded after a laundry list of Obama’s failings. He went on to reiterate that when he met Obama in person he “found him to be a nice guy,” a repetition of what the Romney campaign has clearly signaled is the candidate’s intention to stay civil toward the president on a personal level.

He did take a shot at Vice President Joe Biden, saying, “he is the gift that keeps on giving, you know, this guy.”

Romney clearly framed his speech as Obama’s future opponent in the general election, beginning with a “thank you” to the rest of the Republican primary field that commended their courage and the “vital role” they would continue to play in the party but putting them firmly in the rearview mirror as candidates.

“Thank you, this extraordinary team. We have all fought hard and well,” he said, listing the names of all the former contenders and including Newt Gingrich, who is still running.