FORT LUPTON, Colo. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama taking credit for increased American energy production is like Romney claiming responsibility for the Red Sox's World Series wins when he was Massachusetts governor.
In each case, neither one has anything to do with the other, he said Wednesday.
Standing near oil drilling equipment with the Rocky Mountains on the horizon, the Republican presidential candidate used an appearance in suburban Denver to excoriate his rival's energy policies as backward-looking, ineffective and damaging to the middle-class voters both men are trying to woo.
Romney blamed Obama for high U.S. unemployment and said the president had blocked the creation of thousands of jobs by blocking Keystone XL oil pipeline and curtailing offshore drilling. He pledged to pursue a job-creating energy policy.
"The president tries to take credit for the fact that oil production is up. I'd like to take credit for the fact that when I was governor, the Red Sox won the World Series," Romney clucked. "But neither one of those would be the case."
Since Obama took office in 2009, domestic drilling has increased despite Republican claims that he is working against the industry. Domestic crude oil production is at its highest level in eight years, rising 3.6 percent last year. Romney said that was due to increases on private lands, not because of action taken by the government.
Obama's campaign countered that he is pursuing an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy that has boosted U.S. oil production, encouraged research and development into clean coal and nearly doubled renewable energy production.
"Mitt Romney continues to be dishonest about both President Obama's record on energy and his own," said Obama campaign spokesman Lis Smith.
Romney's visit to Colorado comes as both campaigns eye the state as among those up for grabs on Nov. 6.
Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in Denver nearly four years ago, boosting his party's prospects in the Mountain West. Long a reliably GOP state, Obama won Colorado in 2008 in part because of an influx of young professionals and Hispanics. But the economy has hurt his standing in the state and Romney, who lost the state's GOP caucuses to Rick Santorum, would like to put Colorado back in the Republican column.
Republicans are counting on voter frustration over high gasoline prices to help the party in November. Romney's campaign has tied the higher cost of fuel and, in turn, of everyday good such as groceries, to Obama's energy policies.
In an interview with KOA-AM radio, Romney also tied energy sources to restarting closed factories.
"I have been stymied by the president's policy, so I'm very anxious to take advantage of those resources and by doing so, keep our prices down and see a resurgence of manufacturing in this country, thanks in part to our energy opportunities," he said.
Associated Press writer Steven Paulson in Denver contributed to this report.