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Obama defends energy record

Associated Press Modified: March 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm •  Published: March 15, 2012

In a Fox News interview shortly before Obama spoke, Mitt Romney said Obama should "absolutely" be held responsible for high gasoline prices because "he has not pursued policies that convince the world that America is going to become energy secure, energy independent."

Romney said Obama has delayed drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and in a national wildlife refuge in Alaska. He also criticized the president for not going forward with the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, and for policies pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"So the world believes that America's not going to have the energy we need and we're going to have to continue to send hundreds of billions of dollars out of our economy, going into other nations" to pay for fuel, instead of tapping domestic resources, Romney said.

Before an enthusiastic audience, Obama argued that drilling for new oil alone would not solve the country's energy problems, let alone lead to lower gas prices at the pump now. Straying from his text, he joked: "We're drilling all over this country. I guess there's some empty spots where we're not drilling. We're not at the National Mall. We're not drilling at your house."

He also compared his critics to former President Rutherford B. Hayes, who served from 1877 to 1881, quoting him as having once said about the telephone: "It's a great invention but who would ever want to use one?"

"That's why he's not on Mount Rushmore," Obama cracked. "Because he was looking backwards, he was not looking forward."