PELL CITY, Ala. — Newt Gingrich packed the Pell City Parks and Recreation Center Wednesday afternoon. The metal chairs were filled, and men and women stood around the periphery of the room.

Newt Gingrich pumps gas at a station in Pell City, Ala., on March 7, 2012. (Krissah Thompson/The Washington Post)

Emboldened, Gingrich strengthened his attacks on his Republican opponents and the president. And he talked about gas.

“I have a challenge for the president. I would be glad to debate him at any gas station in America,” Gingrich said to roaring applause and shouts of “C’mon Newt!”

“No Obama, no expensive gas,” he said to more applause. “When Barack Obama was sworn in three years ago, gas was $1.89 per gallon. Why is it so hard to believe it will get down to $2.50 per gallon?”

As soon as he pulled out of the parks and rec center, Gingrich stopped at a Texaco gas station to film a YouTube video, where he again promised to get gas down to $2.50 per gallon.

At the station, located off a main highway through this small town, unleaded gas was $3.59 per gallon. Gingrich strode over to the pump, picked up the handle and poked fun at President Obama’s push for green energy development from algae.

“There is no algae that will come out of this, this summer,” Gingrich said.

“I’ve been suggesting this would be a great Saturday night skit,” Gingrich said of energy developed from algae.

The former House speaker pushed for the construction of the Key Stone pipeline, the reopening of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and drilling in areas of Alaska.