Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who has recently shifted his focus from the economy to gas prices and energy policy, is set to air a 30-minute speech on those issues in several states that vote early in March.
As prices at the pump continue to inch upward, the former House speaker has seized on the issue and blamed President Obama’s energy policies as part of the problem. He routinely calls for a new “American energy program” that will allow energy development on federal property and in federally controlled waters.
“I think our goal should be simple,” Gingrich said on Tuesday in a speech to Oklahoma state legislators. “We want to be so independent in energy production that no future president ever again bows to a Saudi king.” The line is a reference to Obama’s deep bend at the waste when greeting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2009, which the White House has insisted was not a bow. But the reference usually draws enthusiastic applause from Gingrich’s crowds on the campaign trail.
The focus on rising gas prices has the Obama administration on the defensive, with White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday dismissing the idea that the president is to blame for the increases.
“The rise in gas prices is clearly the effect of a variety of factors on the global price of oil around the world,” he told reporters at a press conference. “They include unrest in certain regions of the world. They include growth in places like China and India.”
In the video, which was filmed last week in California while Gingrich was on a fundraising swing through the state, the candidate speaks directly to the camera for 28 minutes with a simple blue curtain behind him. The campaign points out that he is speaking “without a teleprompter or text,” a dig at Obama’s use of teleprompters in his speeches.
In his talk, Gingrich calls for an expansion in American oil and natural-gas supplies through increased production and the utilization of new technologies in shale exploration and hydrofracturing, the process of extracting oil from rock with pressurized water. And he promises to expand the areas where the U.S. drills for oil.
“What we should do and what I will do as your president is I will authorize the development of offshore as long as it is far enough out that it is not visible, and it is not a threat to tourism or the fisheries,” he says. “And I will authorize the development of federal lands that are appropriate.”
The campaign says the ad will first air Saturday night on a local affiliate in Washington state, which holds caucuses on March 3. It will also play in key markets in advance of Super Tuesday, March 6. Ten states hold primaries and caucuses that day, including Gingrich’s native Georgia.