Burlingame, California - The White House may think it's politically wise to mock Republican calls for more domestic drilling, but Newt Gingrich is betting his candidacy on the probability that the president's words will backfire.
Knocking President Obama's Miami energy speech as "factually false, intellectually incoherent, deeply conflicted... and in some places, just strange," Gingrich delivered a response Saturday aiming to refute President Obama's assertion that there's "no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce dependence on foreign oil overnight."
"We are not looking for silver bullets, we are looking for presidential leadership," the candidate said, pointing to the "presidential pen," which Gingrich said could approve the Keystone pipeline, allow for more drilling in the Gulf, and open up federal lands in Alaska for energy development today.
"In three signatures, you would have 2.3 million barrels a day of additional energy," Gingrich estimated as he addressed the California Republican Party; behind him on stage, supporters held up newly printed signs of gas pumps with "$2.50" on it, which the candidate has vowed will be the average price for a gallon of gas under his administration.
Retooling his campaign after Florida, Newt Gingrich believes a campaign platform that stresses the high cost of gas will revive his faltering campaign. Referring to notes - a rare situation for Gingrich who enjoys speaking off the cuff - he parodied the president's comment that "high gas prices are like a tax right out of your paycheck."
"You can think of gasoline prices when you go fill up your car as the Obama tax," Gingrich joked. "This is the new Obama tax straight out of your pocket book - I'm just quoting the president's own words."
The candidate hit the president for taking credit for expanded U.S. oil production, saying that while total production has increased, the amount that comes from federal lands is down 11 percent.
"In the area he controls, production is down. In the area that's that horrid free enterprise stuff where people get rich, production is up. So he's now claiming credit for the area he can't control in order to have us think he's actually for what he opposes." The audience laughed.
The former House Speaker also took issue with the president's statement that his administration is "taking every possible action to develop safely a near hundred year supply of natural gas in this country -- something experts believe will support more than 600,000 jobs by the next decade."
"That is fundamentally misleading," Gingrich said. "They have a tax of I think eight different agencies trying to figure out how to block fracking, which is the method by which we get natural gas. They are methodically trying to undermine and cripple the natural gas industry and it is stunningly dishonest of this president to pretend that he favors something that his administration is actively working to undermine and cripple."
"He does make the correct point that there will probably be 600,000 jobs in natural gas by the end of the decade," Gingrich continued. "My only point is, terrific, why don't we try to get all of them in the next two years so we can put Americans to work now rather than waiting for the next president."
To illustrate what he called "the depth of mendacity of this administration," Gingrich contrasted the president's veto of the Keystone pipeline with his statement that, "over the last three years my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada."
"This would be like saying, my Navy has eleven new ships, they're all rowboats," Gingrich sneered, adding, "To come and say, 'I've approved lots of pipelines. Why are you mad at me?' Well, cause you didn't approve the one that mattered."
The candidate joked that President Obama's speech on American energy should have been entitled, "Why I Didn't Mean to Do Everything We Did."