The pump read $3.53 a gallon for regular unleaded, but the gasoline couldn’t be had for any price. Not with the governor, a state senator and two delegates holding forth right there on energy policy.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell discusses energy policy at a suburban Richmond Shell station as Del. Jimmy Massie (R-Henrico), left, Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), station owner Randy Seibert and Del. John A. Cox (R-Hanover) look on. (Laura Vozzella/The Washington Post)

It was not the place to fill up as the politicians assembled at a pumpside podium bearing a Mitt Romney sign. They bemoaned soaring gas prices and restrictions that the Obama administration has placed on off-shore drilling and coal-fired energy plants.

The price of gas is up $1.88 per gallon since President Obama took office, said Randy Seibert, whose company has several stations, a body shop and towing operations.

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign had organized the event, which caused cars to back up at the one bank of pumps that stayed open for business. Attired in business suits, with TV cameras trained on them, the group drew curious looks from drivers waiting to fill up on another sort of fuel at the Starbucks drive-through next door.

McDonnell said that under a President Romney, Virginia would be freed to tap its “God-given natural resources,” resulting in more energy independence, more energy-sector jobs and more revenue in state coffers.

“On energy, we’re gonna go from having no plan and no vision for energy to actually having a real, live, comprehensive, American-based, red-white-and-blue, all-of-the-above energy policy,” McDonnell said.

Obama’s campaign was unconvinced.

“Mitt Romney’s energy plan was written by big oil, for big oil,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Joanne Peters said via e-mail. “It will do nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign energy and will instead give billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies to his oil company donors that are already raking in record profits. President Obama supports an all of the above energy plan, and under his leadership, domestic oil production is at its highest level in 14 years, our dependence on foreign oil is at a 20-year low, and increased fuel-efficiency standards will save us 12 billion barrels of oil.”