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Romney seizes on gas prices in new Obama attack

KIRKWOOD, MO -- At a rally here outside of St. Louis, Mitt Romney today scolded President Obama for seeming to blame higher gas prices on Republican rhetoric on Iran and the Middle East.

Romney claimed instead it was the president's domestic energy policies that have led to the spike in the cost of gas.

"[President Obama] said it’s because Republican presidential candidates are talking in a very muscular way about Iran and their nuclear program. Now that’s a pretty tough one to follow, and frankly, it’s disappointing to have the president of the United States take a serious foreign-policy issue, which is Iran, the state sponsor of terror in the world becoming nuclear, and trying to turn that into, saying we’re somehow responsible for high gasoline prices in this country," Romney said. "It is a, it’s a real stretch, even for a guy who’s gotten pretty good at making excuses."

Romney appeared to be referring to remarks the president made in an interview with ABC Orlando affiliate WFTV yesterday.

"The biggest driver of these high gas prices is speculation about possible war in the Middle East, which is why we've been trying to reduce some of the loose talk about war there," Obama said. Last week, the president also condemned what he said was the "loose talk of war" with Iran.

With new national polls suggesting that rising gas prices could be denting the president's political standing, Romney seized on the issue of domestic energy production at his first campaign stop here today, saying the president ignored several options that could have halted the gasoline price spike.

"Maybe it’s related to the fact that you stopped drilling in the, in the Gulf. Maybe it’s related to the fact, Mr. President, that you are not drilling in ANWR," Romney said, referring to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. "Maybe it’s related to the fact that you said we couldn’t get a pipeline in from Canada known as Keystone. Those things affect gasoline prices, long term."

But Romney's comments appeared to ignore the fact that most energy analysts agree that political instability in the Middle East is a major driver of rising gas prices.

In his first public campaign event in Missouri, Romney took did some polling of his own, asking his audience the correct way to pronounce the name of the state here on its eastern edge. Satisfied by the crowd's cheers that the traditional "Missouri" pronunciation would suffice, Romney left the door open to go with "Missourah" later today in Kansas City.

'OK, I'm in Missouri right now. I think we're going, I think we're going to Missourah a little later today," Romney said "Yeah, we're taking a trip over to Missourah."