Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith called Romney's energy plan "backward."
"This isn't a recipe for energy independence," Smith said. "It's just another irresponsible scheme to help line the pockets of big oil while allowing the U.S to fall behind and cede the clean energy sector to China."
The cornerstone of Romney's plan is opening up more areas for offshore oil drilling, including mid-Atlantic swing states like North Carolina and Virginia, where it is currently banned. He also wants to give states the power to establish all forms of energy production on federal lands, a significant shift in current policy that could face strong opposition in Congress.
Romney specifically cited drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of a broad plan to generate millions of additional barrels of oil each day.
A Romney campaign official later downplayed the comment. The plan would revive a longtime Republican goal to allow drilling for oil in the wildlife refuge. Congress has blocked drilling there for more than a quarter-century.
Romney also plans to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that has worried environmentalists and would run from Canada to U.S. refineries in Texas. And he is calling for the end of a production tax credit for wind power that is set to expire at the end of the year.
Many Republicans in battleground states such as Iowa support the credit, which the American Wind Energy Association says sustains 37,000 jobs.
"I think all energy sources need to stand on their own two feet," Romney said in an interview with a Colorado TV station Thursday, arguing that wind and solar power are subsidized at a higher rate than oil. "I would level the playing field."
Romney's campaign says he does not support ending oil subsidies.
The Obama administration has proposed a plan that would allow energy companies to begin seismic testing to find oil and natural reserves in the Atlantic Ocean. Companies would use the information to determine where to apply for energy leases, although no leases would be available until at least 2017.
The president told donors in New York this week that under his administration, dependence on foreign oil has gone below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.
While the energy debate dominated the discussion on Thursday, Democrats will continue to pursue the abortion debate to help drive a wedge between Republicans and women.
Obama advisers consider Akin's comments a significant development and plan to continue linking Akin to Romney's running mate, Ryan, who cosponsored a bill with Akin to permanently ban federal funding for abortion except in cases of incest and forcible rape.
That language, which was eventually changed, would have narrowed the exception for rape victims.
Romney does not oppose abortion in cases of rape and incest or if it will save the mother's life, while Ryan does oppose abortion in cases of rape and incest.
Daly reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
Follow Matthew Daly at http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC
Cut pounds of stomach fat every week by using this 1 weird old tip.