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Obama kicks off two-day energy tour

President Barack Obama waves before boarding Air Force One at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, March, 16, 2012. Obama is traveling on to Atlanta for another fundraiser. AP

President Obama on Wednesday kicks off a politically-charged two-day energy tour to three battleground states - Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio, with an additional stop in Cushing, Oklahoma, the site where a key portion of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline would begin.

The president will tout his administration's energy policies and highlight his efforts to reduce dependency on foreign oil. But the tour, and his message, comes amid deep political concern in the White House - that high gas prices may hurt the presidents re-election chances.

In advance of this trip, Republicans have already gone on offense, pinning gas prices to his policies.

"The president wants the American people to think his policies have nothing to do with rising gas prices, but his policies are making gas prices worse," said a statement released by House Speaker John Boehner's office.

Throughout the next two days, Mr. Obama is expected to fight back against that line of attack, aiming to better his chances on Election Day.

Today the president makes his first stop at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City, Nev. -- the largest operating photovoltaic plant in the country -- housing nearly one million solar panels. Here, the President will reference his "all of the above energy strategy" and promote the use of wind and solar energy.

A day after the primary in his home state of Illinois, the rhetoric here is expected to be political in nature. The President will likely respond, if indirectly, to Mitt Romney's charge last night that Obama administration regulation stifles innovation.

"Under this President, pioneers would have faced an uphill battle to innovate, invent, and create. Under Dodd-Frank, they would have struggled to get a loan from their community bank. A regulator would have shut down the Wright Brothers for their 'dust pollution.' And the government would have banned Thomas Edison's light bulb. Oh, that's right. They just did," Romney said.

From Boulder City, Mr. Obama goes on to tour oil and gas production fields outside of Maljamar, New Mexico. At this site, he will focus on touting his administration's commitment to domestic oil and gas production - including drilling -- as he did last week in an energy speech in Largo, Md.

"We are drilling. Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. Any time. That's a fact.

We've quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high. I want everybody to listen to that -- we have more oil rigs operating now than ever," he said.

On Thursday morning, the President travels to Cushing, OK for a political photo opportunity amongst pipes in TransCanada Pipe Yard - pipes that will be used to build the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline. Here, he will likely attempt to counter Republican claims that he is not in favor of the Keystone Pipeline.

Both Republican presidential candidates and Republicans on the Hill are expected to hit the President for this stop. Boehner's office has already pointed out that this southern portion of the Keystone XL pipeline, that runs from Cushing to the Gulf Coast - does not need a presidential permit.

From Cushing, the president heads to Columbus, OH to deliver remarks at Ohio State University - one of the country's best schools for advanced energy-related research.

The president returns to Washington Thursday night.

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