Axelrod: GOP's gas price talk is "snake oil"

(CBS News) The president's top campaign adviser, David Axelrod, charged Republican presidential candidates and Republicans in Congress with making false promises about how to reduce the cost of gas.

On CBS News' "Face the Nation," Axelrod specifically attacked Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney for saying he would fire three cabinet officials charged with energy production: Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Axelrod said Romney is making false promises to voters. "Mr. Romney will pander, and the poor American consumer will be left in the same position," he told host Bob Schieffer. "So we need to keep going forward with an 'all of the above' strategy on energy."

Axelrod also criticized "the notion that we can simply drill our way out of this" by attacking Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's claim that his plan would reduce gas prices to $2.50 cents per gallon. "That's not oil talk, but snake oil talk," Axelrod said.

Axelrod said the president's "all of the above" strategy includes increased production (including from renewable sources) and decreased consumption.

"If we don't do all of those things we're going to be right back here again every election season," Axelrod told Schieffer.

Schieffer questioned Axelrod if the president is doing his own pandering. He asked Axelrod about campaign speeches in 2008 made by then-candidate Barack Obama where he blamed President Bush for gas that cost "two-and-a-half times what it cost when George Bush took office."

Axelrod said the president has taken action to lower gas prices by increasing oil production, raising fuel efficiency standards and increasing renewable energy production.

When Schieffer asked about the president's decision to halt the construction of the XL Keystone pipeline from the Tar Sands in Canada to refineries in the Gulf Coast and whether he thought it was a mistake, Axelrod blamed the Republicans in Congress for playing politics. He pointed to the House GOP's passing a measure that would have forced the president to speed up approval of the pipeline.

"What they did was force a premature decision on this," Axelrod said. "The State Department said they needed more time to evaluate the project and all of its implications" for the land and the environment, such as water aquifers in Nebraska.

"The Congress wanted to force a decision for political reasons; they did," Axelrod said. "Not having the time to make a proper decision, [the administration] had to decline this proposal. If it's resubmitted it will be considered again, hopefully in the the time frame that is appropriate.

"But understand this president has approved dozens of pipelines," Axelrod added. "He certainly is not hostile to transporting oil, but we have to do it in the appropriate way and protect the public safety in doing it.

"It may have been a mistake for the Republicans to force the decision so quickly -that I agree with," Axelrod offered. "But that's their decision to explain. Not ours."

Also on "Face the Nation," head of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said he "chuckled" when he heard Axelrod's statement.

Priebus said "the Republicans have been in favor of this Keystone pipeline," which he said would create 20,000 jobs, a figure that has been widely disputed. "It wouldn't be the whole deal [to lowering gas prices]. But it's a step closer."

Priebus said the president is not doing all the things necessary to reduce the cost of oil.

"We're sitting on a wealth of energy to get us to a place where we don't have $4 and $5 gas. This president isn't there. He's talking out of both sides of his mouth."

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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