Glen Johnson / Globe Staff
MANCHESTER, N.H. Mitt Romney pulled out his own credit card and spent $38.52 today to fill up the Ford Escape owned by aide Will Ritter, before he blamed high gasoline prices on the country's inability to generate a sufficient supply of energy.
The prospective Republican presidential contender said the Obama administration's reliance on creating green technologies and renewable energy supplies is commendable, but it has also caused price increases because of the expectation that supply of existing fuels will not increase.
He called for more oil drilling and natural gas pipelines, as well as coal production.
"The reason you're seeing these high prices is because of the extraordinary growth in demand globally and the inability of this nation to create sufficient supply," Romney told reporters as he visited Hillsborough Gas & Repair before a GOP candidate forum in New Hampshire.
"It's a supply-and-demand imbalance, and if we're going to get prices down, we're going to have to finally address our sources of energy," he added. "Instead of trying to find a scapegoat, as I watched the president (say) the other day, 'We're gonna investigate and see who's gouging,' well, that's always a good thing to do; there's nothing wrong with finding out who the gougers are, but that's not the reason for gasoline prices at the level we're seeing. The reason for these prices is because we have not kept our supply in line with our demand."
Tony Chedid has owned the station for seven years, and he said his profit margin has fallen as prices have risen because credit card fees are consuming a bigger portion of the sale.
He said he is now making about 3 cents per gallon.
"It's a misconception," said Chedid. "People think the prices are high, we're making a killing. Really, the ideal price for us would be something like $2 a gallon."
While Obama has called for an end to oil and gas industry subsidies in light of record energy corporation profits, Romney avoided a direct answer when asked whether he favors or opposes the idea.
The former Massachusetts governor said he favors tax reform for both individuals and corporations, including lower rates for both but also a reexamination of deductions and exemptions.
Yet he added: "As to the specifics of that industry, I haven't looked at it in sufficient depth."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.