HOBBS, N.M. – Mitt Romney highlighted his plans to expand domestic drilling while campaigning in New Mexico on Thursday, promising to help America move toward energy independence by 2020.
“This is not some pie in the sky kind of thing. This is a real, achievable objective,” he said, gesturing toward a chart beside him that wobbled in the wind in the truck yard where he spoke.
The former Massachusetts governor sought to shift the campaign debate to energy after a week that has been dominated by the fallout from the comments made by Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. Romney called on Akin to drop out of Missouri's U.S. Senate race after the congressman made the scientifically baseless assertion during an interview that women have a biological mechanism for preventing pregnancy after a “legitimate rape.”
The uproar over the comments has drawn unwelcome attention to the abortion views of Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, who has worked with Akin on several pieces of legislation and shares his opposition to abortion, without exceptions.
Romney said Thursday that if elected, he would expedite the Keystone XL pipeline tol carry oil from Canada to Texas, while boosting domestic oil production by streamlining permit regulations. He claimed his plans would create 3 million "energy-related” jobs and would lead to “lower energy prices for American families and, by the way, for American businesses.”
Picking up on a theme that former Republican nominees George W. Bush and John McCain frequently used during their campaigns in 2004 and 2008, Romney argued that expanding the nation’s domestic energy supply was a national security matter and he disputed a widely cited figure that the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s recoverable oil.
The Obama campaign argued that Romney’s energy speech “was devoid of any policy specifics or concrete steps that would realistically increase our nation’s energy independence.”
“Romney’s policies would take us backward,” said Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith. “He wants to keep giving billions of dollars in tax subsidies to the big oil and gas companies and recklessly open new areas for drilling, but turn our back on increasing energy efficiency and developing our clean, homegrown energy sources.”
The Obama campaign argued that Romney’s plan “would only ensure that big oil’s profits continue to increase while we cede our clean energy sector, which is supporting jobs in states like Michigan, Ohio and Iowa, to China.”
Romney argued that he liked wind and solar power as much as “the next person, but I don’t want the law to be used to stop the production of oil and gas and coal, and I’m going to get the law to finally be transparent with timelines, statute of limitations and stop using these legal suits to try and stop the production of energy in this country.”
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