In Keystone wake, Obama campaign touts energy in first ad

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:50am EST

President Barack Obama walks out of the Oval Office towards Marine One at the White House in Washington before his trip to Florida and New York, January 19, 2012.      REUTERS/Larry Downing

President Barack Obama walks out of the Oval Office towards Marine One at the White House in Washington before his trip to Florida and New York, January 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's re-election campaign sought to manage fallout on Thursday from his decision to nix a new oil pipeline, putting up its first television ad of 2012 to promote his energy record.

Obama, who is fighting to retain the White House in the November presidential election, came under heated criticism from Republicans for deciding on Wednesday to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

The president blamed Republicans for forcing his hand by inserting an "arbitrary" deadline for a decision into a deal to extend the U.S. payroll tax cut.

The campaign's first major ad buy reflected the seriousness with which it views energy as a potential weakness for the president going into the 2012 contest.

The ad sought to discredit his opponents for attacking Obama's record, including the administration's loan support for a solar energy company, Solyndra, which later went bankrupt.

"For the first time in 13 years ... our dependence on foreign oil is below 50 percent," the ad's voiceover says.

"President Obama kept his promise to toughen ethics rules ... and strengthen America's energy economy."

Republicans said the ad was a sign of a defensive president.

"Instead of talking jobs and the economy, Obama defended his ... energy and ethical record? Well, the reviews are in and it's clear Team Obama is on defense," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirstin Kukowski said in an email, highlighting media coverage of the ad that described it as defensive.

The 30-second spot is running in the electoral battleground states of Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. It did not mention Keystone specifically.

The ad is the campaign's first in 2012 and its biggest television buy overall. The campaign did a small advertising purchase on satellite television in 2011, a spokesman said.

(Reporting By Jeff Mason; Editing by Doina Chiacu)