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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama says goodbye to the crowd at Nashua Community College in Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama greets people in the snow at Manchester Airport before heading to Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama greets people in the snow at Manchester Airport before heading to Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama arrives in Manchester Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama heads to his motorcade at Manchester Airport before heading to Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama at Nashua Community College's automotive department
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama greets people at Nashua Community College's automotive department Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama greets people at Nashua Community College's automotive department Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama begins his remarks in Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama discusses oil and energy during his visit to Nashua Community College in Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    President Barack Obama greets the crowd at Nashua Community College in Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Part of the crowd at Nashua Community College in Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    People in the crowd chant as President Barack Obama leaves Nashua Community College in Nashua Thursday, March 1, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Jessica Trask, left, and Geff Domingeuz brave the cold and snow to stand in line Thursday, March 1, 2012, outside the Nashua Community College for President Barack Obama's visit.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Seven-year-old Chris Bethea shows the picture he took of the president on his Nintendo, while waiting for the bus Thursday, March 1, 2012, outside the Nashua Community College following President Barack Obama's visit.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    A school bus drops off attendees Thursday, March 1, 2012, outside the Nashua Community College for President Barack Obama's visit.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Obama stresses reducing foreign oil dependence in Nashua speech

It was billed as an official White House visit, but that didn’t stop President Barack Obama from firing back at potential Republican contenders who claim that rising gas prices are a result of his energy policies.

During a brief address at Nashua Community College on Thursday, Obama told a mostly supportive crowd that candidates who claim they could lower prices at the pump quickly just by drilling for more domestic oil and gas are either ignorant or lying.

“Anybody who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem either does not know what they are talking about or they are not telling you the truth,” Obama said to about 600 students and invited guests at the school’s gymnasium.

This was an official presidential visit, and as such, the Democratic incumbent steered clear of making direct references to his Republican presidential campaign rivals.

Obama vowed to work on reducing foreign oil dependence but stressed that there were no “quick fixes or silver bullets” to lowering gas prices.

Obama said voters in this pivotal swing state are savvy enough to know there’s no simple answer.

“Now, if there’s one thing I know about New Hampshire, it’s that your political bull detector is pretty keen. It’s pretty sharp,” Obama said. “You know we can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices. You know there aren’t any quick fixes or silver bullets. If somebody tells you there are, they’re not telling you the truth.”

Obama stressed that every year as president of the United States, he has cut the country’s use of foreign oil, and in 2010 it was at the lowest level in 13 years.

And while Obama has come under attack for blocking the Keystone pipeline from Canada, the president noted that there are more domestic oil rigs working now than at any time in the last eight years. Obama added that he’s working to take down roadblocks for a pipeline in Oklahoma.

“And no matter what you hear from some folks in an election year, the key part of this strategy over the last three years has been to increase safe, responsible oil production here at home while also pursuing clean energy for the future,” Obama said.

“We don’t have to choose between one or the other; we’ve got to do both,” he said.

The simple reality, Obama continued, is that the nation currently uses 20 percent of the world’s oil but produces 2 percent of it. Even robust oil drilling expansion would only raise that to 3 percent, he said.

Obama mocked the GOP’s fascination with domestic oil production as the only solution to our energy price problems.

“And you know what the essence of their plan is going to be, which is: Step one, drill. Step two, drill. Step three, keep drilling. And by the way, we’ll drill in your backyard,’’ Obama quipped. “Wherever it is, we’re just going to put up more rigs.”

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told New Hampshire reporters that Obama’s visit amounted to nothing more than a “taxpayer-funded campaign stop.”

Priebus said Obama’s opposition to drilling offshore has led to the 102 percent increase in gas prices during his presidency.

“President Obama is standing in the way of domestic oil development,” Priebus said. “It’s clear that President Obama is making the economy worse.”

Obama said he’s calling on Congress to eliminate the $4 billion in annual subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

“It’s outrageous. It’s inexcusable. And I am asking Congress: eliminate this oil industry giveaway right away. I want them to vote on this in the next few weeks,” Obama said. “Let’s put every single member of Congress on record: You can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people.”

Before his speech, Obama toured the school’s automotive technology lab and saw how students were learning to work with flex vehicles and those powered by natural gas.

“Anything we can do to use alternatives is going to save us money in the long run,” Obama told one student near the end of the tour.

During his speech, Obama gave credit to the city of Nashua and Mayor Donnalee Lozeau for purchasing a new fleet of trash trucks that run on natural gas. Obama said the trucks are cleaner, are going to last longer and are going to be cheaper to fill.

“I saw one of them. It was a good-looking truck,” Obama said. “And it put a smile on the mayor’s face, because she knows she’s saving money, she’s saving taxpayer money. Good job, Mayor.”

Obama arrived in the state via Wiggins Airways in Manchester to a blinding snowstorm. Right after getting off Air Force One, the president walked over to a group of several dozen supporters who had gotten special invitations to meet him.

“Now go get in and get warm,” Obama said to the group after shaking their hands.

At the college, Obama said he’s used to the near foot of snow that was blanketing the ground in southern New Hampshire today.

“Now, I am from Chicago, so you know a little snow was not going to keep me away,” Obama said.

A man in the audience fainted as Obama was starting his speech but appeared to be OK when he was given some assistance.

“Remember, eat before you come to a presidential event,” Obama quipped after it was clear the man was going to be fine.