An outside group with ties to conservative causes on Thursday launched a $3.6 million ad buy lashing out at President Barack Obama's energy record, blaming him for rising gas prices and his decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline project.
The ads aired in eight states by the American Energy Alliance seek to undercut Obama's message that he has increased oil drilling and pushed to develop renewable energy sources, and came as the president unsuccessfully pressured Congress to cut billions of dollars in subsidies for oil companies.
The ad, called "Nine dollar gas," says gas prices have nearly doubled on Obama's watch and criticizes his opposition to oil drilling in Alaska, his effort to block the Keystone XL pipeline and the administration's decision to provide more than $500 million in federal loans to solar company Solyndra, which later went bankrupt.
It also places a spotlight on Energy Secretary Steven Chu, quoting him from a 2008 interview as saying that the nation needs to "boost the price of gasoline to levels in Europe." "That's $9 a gallon," the ad says. Chu is then shown saying he doesn't own a car.
"Tell Obama: We can't afford his failing energy policies," the ad concludes.
The ads are running in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan, all states crucial to the 2012 presidential campaign.
Democrats called the American Energy Alliance a "front group for big oil," and released an ad on the Web that highlighted common Obama themes on energy: increased oil production, decisions to require carmakers to raise gas mileage standards and more renewable energy.
Obama has argued his case on energy in recent weeks, traveling to a solar plant in Nevada, oil fields in New Mexico and the site of a future pipeline in Oklahoma. On Thursday, he urged Congress to end the oil subsidies, saying the "oil industry is just fine" and no longer needs "taxpayer giveaways." The Senate rejected the plan.
Chu has since renounced his statement, saying at a recent House hearing that he has tried to reduce gas prices as energy secretary.
The American Energy Alliance's president is Thomas Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. The industrial firm's top executives are Charles and David Koch, who have been prominent supporters of conservative causes.