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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 03/18/2012

Mitt Romney on gas prices: Fire the ‘gas hike trio’

This post has been updated.

During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney said there is “no question” that President Obama is to blame for rising gas prices and called for the president to fire the “gas hike trio” of cabinet members.

“When [President Obama] ran for office, he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up,” Romney said. “He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views, and he selected three people to help him implement that program. The secretary of energy, the secretary of interior and EPA administrator. And this gas hike trio has been doing the job over the last three-and-a-half years, and gas prices are up. The right course is they ought to be fired because the president has apparently suffered election-year conversion. He's now decided that gasoline prices should come down.”

Romney went on to say that once Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson submit their letters of resignation, Obama should “start drilling for energy here,” and pursue development of oil, natural gas, and coal resources.

Romney, who first called for their firing at a town hall meeting Saturday night in Collinsville, Ill., is talking more and more about gas prices and their impact on families across the country. He said the gas prices are pinching middle class families, who now struggle to fill up their tanks.

“I’m seeing more and more people, particularly women for instance, that say to me, ‘You know, it’s hard getting kids to school and to soccer practice when you don’t know if you can afford to fill up the car,’” Romney said.

Romney recalled meeting a woman on a recent campaign trip to Missouri. “I spoke with a teacher in St. Louis who was out of work and she’s staying on unemployment because she said, in part, the cost of getting to and from work at a temporary teaching assignment was just so expensive, given gasoline,” Romney said. “She couldn’t afford to go back to work.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has twice examined Republican claims that President Obama wanted gas prices to rise, in both cases awarding Three Pinocchios to Obama’s critics.

Meanwhile, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod fired back at Republicans during a Sunday morning appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” singling out former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s pledge to return gas prices to $2.50 per gallon if he wins the presidency.

“That’s not oil talk, that’s snake oil talk,” Axelrod said. “And I think the American people know the difference.”

Rucker reported from Illinois.

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