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Romney Says Obama Takes Undue Credit for Oil-Output Gains

Photographer: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

Mitt Romney with an oil pump jack at a campaign stop held at KP Kauffman Co., an oil and gas production and drilling company in Fort Lupton, Colo., on May 9, 2012. Close

Mitt Romney with an oil pump jack at a campaign stop held at KP Kauffman Co., an oil... Read More

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Photographer: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo

Mitt Romney with an oil pump jack at a campaign stop held at KP Kauffman Co., an oil and gas production and drilling company in Fort Lupton, Colo., on May 9, 2012.

Mitt Romney, campaigning amid oil rigs dotting the landscape in Colorado, said President Barack Obama’s policies have hurt U.S. energy output and that regulation of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas should be left to states.

“The president tries to take credit for the fact that oil production is up,” the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive Republican presidential nominee told supporters against the backdrop of an oil rig outside Fort Lupton.

“I’d like to take credit for the fact that when I was governor, the Red Sox won the World Series,” he said, referring to the team’s 2004 title. “But neither one of those would be the case. It was not the president’s policies that led to oil production being up.”

Romney said that while oil and gas industry employment has grown during Obama’s presidency, wind-energy jobs have declined. He also criticized Obama’s January decision to reject a TransCanada Corp. (TRP) proposal to build an oil pipeline through environmentally sensitive parts of Nebraska.

“We have energy resources in this country and we have to take advantage of them,” Romney said, adding that he would push for more oil drilling along the U.S. coastline. He said hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, should be “regulated at the state level.”

Obama Campaign Response

An Obama campaign spokeswoman defended the president’s record. “President Obama has aggressively pursued an all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Lis Smith said in a statement. He helped “expand domestic oil production, incentivize research and development for clean coal, nearly double the production of renewable energy, and encourage natural gas production.”

Smith also chided Romney for holding a fundraiser later today in Oklahoma at the home of an oil executive who also advises the Republican on energy issues -- Harold Hamm, chairman and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc.

“On the same day he’s raising money at the home of a billionaire oil executive and campaign adviser who has supported measures to drive up energy prices, Mitt Romney will have to explain why he supports a laundry list of big oil’s demands,” Smith said in a statement.

Falling Gasoline Prices

Complicating Romney’s line of attack on energy is the recent decline in gasoline prices, reducing the issue’s political punch. Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, fell 1.3 cents to $3.75 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA. Prices are down 18.6 cents since reaching a 2012 high of $3.936 on April 4.

Asked about Obama’s endorsement today of same-sex marriage, Romney reaffirmed his opposition to it.

“I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was governor and that I’ve expressed many times; I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” he told reporters gathered before a campaign event in Oklahoma City.

He also called the issue “a very tender and sensitive topic, as are many topics.”

Decisions on various domestic partnership benefits, like hospital visitation rights, should be determined by the states, he said. Campaign officials didn’t specify which benefits Romney would support.

Romney’s earlier appearance in Colorado came a day after he won primary victories in Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia that moved him closer to officially clinching his party’s nomination.

He now has more than 900 of the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination, according to the Associated Press.

Fight for Colorado

Though Obama carried Colorado on his way to winning the presidency in 2008, winning 54 percent of the vote, the state remains in play for both parties. Romney is seeking to blunt the push in the state from Democrats, who held their national convention in Denver four years ago and have courted Colorado’s growing Hispanic population.

With the nation’s fifth-fastest-population growth from 2010-11, Colorado needs to create a steady stream of jobs just to stay even with the influx of workers. Its largest employers include Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TAP), which has a headquarters in Denver.

Colorado’s jobless rate in March was 7.8 percent, below the current national average of 8.1 percent and down from 9 percent in November 2010. It is still above the 6.6 percent recorded in January 2009, the month Obama took office.

How to deal with illegal immigrants is a pressing issue in the state. Hispanics in 2010 accounted for 21 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau.

The most recent nationwide Gallup daily tracking poll, completed May 7, shows Romney with 47 percent support and Obama backed by 44 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Fort Lupton, Colorado, at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net

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