WAUKESHA, Wis. — Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney lashed out at President Obama here Tuesday by accusing him of deflecting blame for the nation’s rising gas prices and the slow economic recovery.
Romney said a television advertisement the Obama campaign began airing this week in six swing states linking Romney with big oil conglomerates amounted to the president blaming him for gas prices.
“The president put an ad out yesterday talking about gasoline prices and how high they are. And guess who he blamed? Me!” Romney said during a mid-day campaign stop at a sub shop here. “Maybe after I’m president I can take responsibility for things I might have done wrong. But this president doesn’t want to take responsibility for his mistakes.”
Romney accused Obama of “running as far away from Harry Truman’s dictum as possible. Harry Truman had the sign on his desk that said, ‘The buck stops here,’ but this president is always looking for somewhere else to point.”
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith countered that Romney is making “dishonest attacks” on Obama’s energy record.
“The facts of the president’s record are clear: under President Obama domestic oil production is at an eight-year high and continuing to rise, and our dependence on foreign oil has hit a 16-year low,” Smith said in a statement. “Renewable energy is doubling, natural gas production is at an all-time high, and greater fuel efficiency standards will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
Romney’s remarks came minutes before Obama attacked the former Massachusetts governor by name in a speech in Washington before a gathering of Associated Press editors and reporters. Their war of words Tuesday signaled that the general election was getting underway, even as Romney still has not secured the Republican nomination.
Campaigning at Cousins Subs in Waukesha with Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Romney predicted he would win the hard-fought primary in Wisconsin. Romney and Ryan handed out about 100 subs to supporters — Romney gave away turkey sandwiches, Ryan ham and cheese.
“If we have a good turnout, then I’ll become the person that receives the Wisconsin delegates I need to go on to become the nominee and finally take back the White House,” Romney said.
But Romney’s comments were largely focused on Obama.
“He gets full credit or blame for what’s happened to this economy and what’s happened to gasoline prices under his watch and what’s happened to our schools and what’s happened to our military forces — all these things are his responsibility while he’s president,” Romney said. “It’s time to have someone who will take responsibility, and if I’m president, I will not only get things right again, I’ll take responsibility for my errors.”