KIRKWOOD, Missouri - Mitt Romney said President Obama's assertion that concerns about war between Iran and Israel in the Middle East are to blame for rising gas prices is a "pretty tough one to follow" and suggested the president is trying to deflect blame to his GOP rivals.
In an interview with ABC affiliate KVUE Monday, the president said concern about the Middle East and war there contributes to escalating gas prices.
"In the short term, the biggest driver is what's happening in the Middle East and the concerns over war there. A couple of weeks ago I said, 'Let's stop with the loose talk about war," Obama said.
Romney said president was trying to pin blame on Republicans for gas prices.
"He said [the reason we have high gasoline prices] is because republican presidential candidates are talking in a very muscular way about Iran and their nuclear program," said Romney, speaking at an outdoor event outside St. Louis. "Now that's a pretty tough one to follow, alright."
"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," said Romney.
Obama reiterated the talking point about "loose talk" of war, the Middle East and gas prices several times on Monday during a series of interviews in Washington, D.C., with local TV stations from throughout the country.
"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 why war there," Obama said during a separate interview with ABC's Orlando, Fla., affiliate WFTV.
Romney said that Obama is simply deflecting responsibility when it comes to gas prices.
"The president is looking around for someone to blame," said Romney. "You know, it's, it seems to be part of his nature. He's out of ideas, he's out of excuses, and in 2012 we're going to get him out of office. That's got to get done."
"But he said something, I think it was yesterday, he said the reason we have high gasoline prices is - and then he was seeking around. What could it be? What could it be?" said Romney. "Now I have some suggestions for him. Maybe it's related to the fact that you stopped drilling in the Gulf. Maybe it's related to the fact, Mr. President, that you weren't out drilling in ANWR. 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."
The president made the comment warning against "loose talk" of war before a meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group. During a press conference two days later, as Republicans in 10 states were voting in their primaries, he was asked about the need for debate on tension between Israel, the U.S. and Iran.
"Well, I think there's no doubt that those who are suggesting, or proposing, or beating the drums of war should explain clearly to the American people what they think the costs and benefits would be," Obama said during that March 6th press conference.