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Posted at 10:43 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Santorum blames Obama for high gas prices

PHOENIX, Ariz. – In remarks to a crowd of about 250 people Tuesday night, former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) appeared to suggest that President Obama has a plan to keep gasoline prices high in an effort to keep Americans driving less and, as a result, reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The suggestion by Santorum comes as the entire GOP field is seizing on the high price of gasoline to slam the Obama administration’s energy policy. It also comes as Obama is slated to give an address on Friday in which he is expected to lay out new proposals for increasing domestic energy production and bring down fuel prices.

“The president of the United States, when he ran for office, talked about – talked about how he could higher prices for gasoline,” Santorum told the crowd. “Why? Well, because he was concerned about global warming.”

The crowd in the auditorium of Phoenix’s El-Zaribah Shrine responded with boos.

“And they needed to reduce CO2 emissions,” Santorum said. “Which means you need to drive less. And the only way we could force Americans to drive less was to make it expensive for you to drive. And that’s why, and here we have now a systematic plan in place by this president to, number one, reduce the drilling of oil and gas in this country.”

Obama, Santorum said, “has done everything he can to the regulatory process to shut it off -- offshore; deepwater. ... Not granting permits. Not building the Keystone Pipeline.”

The argument against the Obama administration’s energy agenda is not a new one. But the suggestion that there is a broader plan in place by Obama to keep the price of gas high appears to be a departure from Santorum’s previous statements on the topic, and could well become the latest campaign-trail statement by the candidate to make a stir.

A Santorum spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on the remarks.

By  |  10:43 PM ET, 02/21/2012

 
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