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Originally published February 23, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Page modified February 24, 2012 at 8:20 AM

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Obama talks gas prices on Fla. fundraising trip

All the GOP candidates have criticized Obama for not encouraging enough domestic fuel production and for rejecting the so-called Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver oil from Canada to Texas.

The Miami Herald

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MIAMI — President Obama stopped in Miami on Thursday to refuel his re-election campaign with big-donor cash and to bash Republicans for "licking their chops" over the high price of gasoline.

"Some politicians always see this as a political opportunity. You're shocked, I know," Obama told hundreds of University of Miami students.

"Only in politics do people greet bad news so enthusiastically. You pay more, and they're licking their chops? You can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas."

Obama's likely reference was to Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, who has promised $2.50-a-gallon-gas on a "drill here, drill now" platform.

All the GOP candidates have criticized Obama for not encouraging enough domestic fuel production and for rejecting the so-called Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver oil from Canada to Texas.

Obama never mentioned Keystone, but he did say that "my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada."

The president also boasted that "under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years." Unmentioned: Nearly all that drilling was approved under his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

Obama said, in the old days, he would stay and watch the Miami Heat-New York Knicks basketball game, but he had other things to do. Specifically, he has to raise money.

Obama hit three high-dollar fundraisers: the swank Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, the Pinecrest home of a top Democratic fundraiser and the Orlando home of Dallas Mavericks star Vince Carter.

About a dozen protesters holding signs, including one that read, "Obama Marxist/Muslim Dictator," gathered outside the Biltmore Hotel.

Obama's visit to Florida, the second this year, comes as the economy is showing signs of improvement along with his poll numbers.

Still, most polls in Florida show his approval rating under 50 percent in a state that's still plagued by high unemployment and home-foreclosure rates.

The Republican National Committee noted that, since last year, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Miami has risen 82 percent, to about $4 per gallon. (The price of a gallon of regular in Miami on Thursday was actually $3.74, a year-over-year increase of 16.4 percent, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.)

Republicans have blocked some of Obama's initiatives.

But others have been failures, such as Solyndra, the bankrupt California solar firm that's part of what Republicans call a "crony capitalism" investigation.

Seattle Times staff contributed

to this report.

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