Romney to Obama: Fire 'gas hike trio'

President Obama ought to fire his top energy advisers, Mitt Romney said Sunday dubbing the group the "gas hike trio" for what he says is their desire to see gas prices go up.

The Republican primary front-runner said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson are all responsible for implementing policies that are contributing to rising gas prices.

"When (Obama) ran for office, he said he wanted to see gasoline prices go up. He said that energy prices would skyrocket under his views, and he has selected three people to help him implement that program," Romney told "Fox News Sunday."

"The president has apparently suffered an election-year conversion. He's now decided that gasoline prices should come down. While the gas hike trio is going in the other direction, time for them to go, probably hand in their resignations if he's really serious," Romney said.

Romney said that the U.S. needs to start taking advantage of the natural gas, oil and coal resources in the United States, which would help lower prices.

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    The former Massachusetts governor hasn't campaigned frequently on energy prices, though the recent steep increases has brought it to the fore for the president.

    According to AAA, gas prices on Sunday averaged $3.83 nationwide. The president is using the week ahead to travel to oil and gas production fields on federal lands in New Mexico, as well as go to Oklahoma where a pipeline is being built to send oil to the Gulf of Mexico. He also has planned two other visits to two locations in Nevada and Ohio where alternative fuels are being studied and put into use.

    David Axelrod, the president's top campaign adviser, said Romney is pandering on the issue, especially with his calls to fire the president's advisers.

    "I think it's about nonsense is what it's about," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "(Obama)  wasn't advocating higher gas prices. Again, we have to have a national strategy for controlling our energy future."

    On Saturday, Obama said gas prices are often out of his control -- and impacted by global oil supply and demand from emerging economies.

    He also faulted "traders at financial firms" who "game the energy market, distort the price of oil and make big profits for themselves at your expense." The president added that "big oil" companies are benefiting from $4 billion in taxpayer "subsidies."

    Oil and gas firms actually receive the same deductions as other corporate entities rather than subsidies.

    Obliquely referencing Newt Gingrich's pledge to return gas prices to $2.50 a gallon, Obama suggested that's snake oil, not an energy policy.

    "It's easy to promise a quick fix when it comes to gas prices. There just isn't one. Anyone who tells you otherwise -- any career politician who promises some three-point plan for two-dollar gas -- they're not looking for a solution. They're just looking for your vote," he said.

    But Romney said Sunday there are ways to get prices down, including accepting the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and not dropping a half billion dollars into firms like Solyndra, which went belly up while spending taxpayer money.