Business Insider/Grace Wyler
Lake In The Hills, Ill. — As he struggles to keep up with his Republican rivals in this month’s primaries, Newt Gingrich has refocused his aim against President Barack Obama this week, dredging up old Tea Party standbys to rally conservative voters. Campaigning in the President’s home state, Gingrich has spiced up his attacks against Obama’s energy policies with a dog-whistle shoutout to birthers.
“We need an American president who is for American energy,” Gingrich told a crowd of about 50 people here Thursday. “Someone with American values who will create American jobs on American soil.”
While outright birther conspiracies are now generally regarded as desperate and/or crazy, Gingrich’s fuzzy birtherism is a thinly-veiled nod to the sizable group of conservatives who are still not convinced that Obama was born in the U.S.
Newt’s remarks also up the stakes in the growing battle between the White House and the Gingrich campaign. The former House Speaker’s pledge to lower gas prices to $2.50 per gallon has clearly touched a nerve with the Obama administration, and even prompted a rare outburst from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who was forced to walk back his claim that any candidate promising $2.50 gas was “lying.”
Obama took the issue head-on during a speech in Maryland Thursday, defending his energy policies and criticising his potential Republican opponents as “founding members of the Flat Earth Society.”
“If it feels like we’ve seen this movie before, that’s because we have,” Obama said. “Every time prices start to go up – especially in an election year – politicians dust off their three-point plans for $2 gasoline. They head down to the pump, make sure a few cameras are following them, and start acting like they can wave a magic wand and you’ll have cheap gas forever. Sound familiar?”
There’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to high gas prices,” he added. “We know there’s no silver bullet. And anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t really looking for a solution – they’re probably just looking to ride the political wave of the moment.”
Gingrich is clearly relishing the fight. He responded gleefully to Obama’s attacks Thursday, telling reporters in Illinois that Obama is a “founding member of the Flat Earth Sierra Club” and that his campaign is going to start selling gear depicting him as ‘President Drilling’ and Obama as ‘President Algae.’
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