HOUSTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a fund-raising crowd that included a billionaire oil baron on Tuesday that he will lay out a comprehensive energy proposal this week aimed at increasing U.S. energy production and creating jobs.
Romney’s speech will seek to return his presidential campaign to the more familiar ground of how to boost the sluggish U.S. economy after the race was dominated for more than a week by a Medicare proposal from his vice presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan.
Romney attended a fund-raising lunch at a Houston hotel that, combined with an event in Midland, Texas, will net between $6 million and $7 million for his battle to oust President Barack Obama.
Romney gave the crowd a pointed reminder that his campaign has been more frugal with his contributors’ money than Obama has been. Figures released on Monday showed Obama’s re-election effort had $60 million less cash on hand than the Romney campaign.
“You’ve perhaps noticed in the paper, we’re a little wiser in our spending of dollars than the other side, apparently. I‘m not managing their campaign for them, but we’re going to spend our money wisely, we’re going to spend it to win,” he said.
At the head table in Houston was Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma billionaire who has been a major player in developing the large Bakken oil field in Montana and North Dakota. Other energy executives were in the audience as well, and what Romney told them was likely music to their ears.
Romney has made increasing energy production a key part of his plan to rebuild the U.S. economy and has been sharply critical of what he calls Obama’s over reliance on renewable energy like wind and solar.
Romney has said he would ease regulations to allow more offshore oil drilling and increased production of natural gas. He would support coal mining as well, with the goal of making the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy. He said he would also allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada that has been delayed by the Obama administration.
“We will be, I believe before the end of this week, in New Mexico describing a comprehensive energy plan, particularly as it relates to fossil-based fuels,” Romney said. He is scheduled to campaign in Hobbs, New Mexico, on Thursday.
Romney told the audience that “your input is something I wanted to retain before we actually cross the Ts and dot the Is on those policies.”
He declined to go into more detail but campaign officials said he would outline policy proposals for increasing energy production.
Editing by Stacey Joyce