President Obama launched a fiery attack today on his Republican rivals for the presidency, accusing them of pursing energy policies that are so "stuck in the past" they amount to a "bad rerun" and comparing their beliefs to those of the "Flat-Earth Society."
In a campaign-style speech, the president blasted the GOP candidates for resisting alternative energy sources. "They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. … We're trying to move towards the future. They want to be stuck in the past," Obama said at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md.
"We've heard this kind of thinking before. Let me tell you something: If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they must have been founding members of the 'Flat-Earth Society,'" Obama said to cheers from the crowd. "They would not have believed that the world was round."\
"They probably would have agreed with one of the pioneers of the radio who said television won't last, just a flash in the pan. One of Henry Ford's advisers was quoted as saying the horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a fad," Obama said, chuckling. "There have always been folks like that. There have always been folks who are the naysayers and don't believe in the future and don't believe in trying to do things differently."
The president's remarks at the "official" event seemed to overshadow the vice president's "campaign" speech today, which he delivered in Ohio at the same time. The most notable difference was that Biden called out his GOP opponents by name, while Obama simply referred to them as "folks who are, you know, running for a certain office who shall go unnamed."
With gas prices spiking, the president called for increased investments in alternative energy sources and argued that decreasing the nation's dependence on oil will ease the pain at the pump. "If we don't develop other sources of energy, if we don't develop the technology to use less energy, to make our economy more energy-efficient, then we will always be dependent on foreign countries for our energy needs," he said.
The president drew stark contrasts between his "all-of-the-above" approach to energy production and the GOP candidates' election-year strategies.
"Every time prices start to go up, especially in an election year, politicians dust off their three-point plans for $2 gas," Obama said. "They head down to the gas station, they make sure a few cameras are following them and then they start acting like, we've got a magic wand, and we will give you cheap gas forever if you just elect us, every time. Been the same script for 30 years. It's like a bad rerun."
The president reiterated his call for Congress to end $4 billion in oil and gas subsidies, saying "it's inexcusable" and "time for this oil industry giveaway to end."
"Some of the same folks who are complaining about biofuels getting subsidies, or wind or solar energy getting subsidies, or electric cars and advanced batteries getting subsidies to help get them off the ground, these same folks, when you say, 'Why are we still giving subsidies to oil industry?' Well, no, we need those," the president said.
"I expect Congress to vote on ending these subsidies. And when they do, they'll put every single member of Congress on record."
In campaign cadence, the president urged the audience to get involved and tell lawmakers "where you stand."
"Tell them: 'Yes, we can,'" he said, reviving his 2008 campaign slogan to cheers from the crowd. "Tell them we are going to build an economy that lasts. Tell them we're going to make this the American century, just like the last century."