Obama on offense over gas prices

President Obama at largest solar panel plant of its kind Wednesday, in Boulder City, Nev.
President Obama at largest solar panel plant of its kind Wednesday, in Boulder City, Nev.

(CBS News) BOULDER CITY, Nev. - President Obama is on a two-day, four-state energy-related tour. Three of those states will be crucial battlegrounds in this fall's election. And the events have all the trappings of campaign stops.

Under fire on the issue that could be his Achilles heel during this campaign, Mr. Obama is working to combat the impression that he isn't doing enough to remedy high gas prices.

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"We're going to continue to produce oil and gas at a record pace," he told one crowd.

The president first paid a visit to the largest solar plant of its kind in the country, in Boulder City, Nev., a city southeast of Las Vegas. The plant is home to nearly a million solar panels.

He blasted Republicans, who he says have favored oil companies over investments in alternative energy.

"The current members of the Flat Earth Society in Congress," Mr. Obama said, "they would rather see us continue to provide $4 billion in tax subsidies, tax giveaways to the oil companies."

He then flew on to another battleground state, New Mexico, where he visited an oil and gas field to try to rebut Republican claims that he has blocked oil and gas production.

But that didn't stop a GOP group run by Karl Rove from running ads in the states the president is visiting, blaming him for the pain at the pump. One ad said the president "personally lobbied to kill a pipeline bringing oil from Canada."

With Mr. Obama set to arrive in Cushing, Okla., to announce plans to speed up at least part of the controversial Keystone Pipeline, Republican Mitt Romney pounced, saying, "He's completing the lower half of the Keystone Pipeline, the one that's coming from Canada. I'm just not quite sure what kind of impact that's gonna have, given the fact it's not connected to that Canadian oil."

Republicans hope to show that the president isn't doing enough to tackle rising gas prices, which they see as already undermining his re-election chances.

To see Norah O'Donnell's report, click on the video in the player above.

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    Norah O'Donnell is the anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News." She also contributes to "60 Minutes."