Fargo, North Dakota (CNN) – While President Barack Obama prepared to give a speech in New Hampshire touting domestic energy production, in energy-rich North Dakota Mitt Romney said the president "should be hanging his head" over his energy policies.
"He doesn't get credit for the increase; he instead has tried to slow the growth of oil and gas production in this country, and coal production in this country," Romney told an enthusiastic audience in Fargo. "So far from taking credit, he should be hanging his head and taking a little bit of the blame for what's going on today."
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The GOP candidate spoke to a supportive audience gathered on a frosty factory floor. North Dakota boasts vast natural resources and the lowest unemployment rate in the country, and audience members applauded Romney's call for increased production.
His speech focused heavily on his proposals to expand energy production, including opening federal lands to drilling and easing regulations on a controversial policy known as fracking.
Fracking involves pumping water into rocks to harvest natural gas.
Romney joins his GOP opponent, former Sen. Rick Santorum, in pushing for expanded energy production on the campaign trail. Santorum has brandished a piece of coal during stump speeches to illustrate his desire to expand energy production.
But in North Dakota, where voters will weigh in on the Republican race on March 6, Romney kept his focus on Obama and said he "does not understand energy."
"Today the president is going to be in New Hampshire talking about energy in North Dakota. He's about as far away from North Dakota as he can get and still be in the United States," Romney said. "His idea of course is to be far enough away from the people who know what's really going on right here to maybe try and blow one past folks."
Obama's re-election team defended its "all-of-the-above energy strategy" while criticizing Romney for saying "anything to get elected."
"Mitt Romney's backward-looking energy policy does not meet America's complex energy needs today," campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said in a statement. "His tax plan keeps subsidies for big oil and gas companies making billions in profits. And he has made clear he is not concerned about gas prices."
While greeting supporters on the ropeline, the candidate also weighed in on the kerfuffle he caused after appearing to say he did not agree with a Republican-backed amendment in the Senate that would allow employers to refuse health care coverage they found to be morally objectionable.
The amendment, drafted by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Romney supporter, is an attempt by Senate Republicans to confront head-on a simmering controversy over rules governing religious employers and coverage they are required to provide. The Senate voted to kill the measure Thursday morning.
"I'm in favor of the Blunt amendment," Romney told reporters.
He also alluded to that support earlier in his speech, when he criticized the president's health care policy.
"Obamacare is an attempt by this administration to say, for instance, to the Catholic Church that they have to provide to the employees of, let's say, universities that are in the Catholic Church, they have to provide to them sterilization treatments for free, and contraception, and morning after pills, and that violates the conscience of the church, the conscience of individuals," Romney said. "And fortunately, there's an effort in Washington to stop that, to reverse that."