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President Obama, Mitt Romney Clash Over Keystone XL Pipeline

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WASHINGTON -- After President Obama confirmed he would deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing the project fails to serve the national interest, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney was quick to attack.

Romney on Wednesday called the president's rejection of the pipeline "as shocking as it is revealing," accusing Obama of pandering to environmentalists in an election year.

"It shows a president who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy," Romney said in a statement, adding that the president "seems to have confused the national interest with his own interest in pleasing the environmentalists in his political base."

Romney also said Obama was stifling job creation and turning his back on a fragile economy.

"If Americans want to understand why unemployment in the United States has been stuck above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression, decisions like this one are the place to begin," Romney said. "By declaring that the Keystone pipeline is not in the 'national interest,' the president demonstrates a lack of seriousness about bringing down unemployment, restoring economic growth, and achieving energy independence."

HuffPost's Tom Zeller has documented that TransCanada's assertion about the pipeline creating 20,000 jobs -- 13,000 in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing -- is a considerable exaggeration.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt shot back at Romney in a statement on Wednesday.

"Mitt Romney has made clear that he would rubber-stamp whatever the Republicans in Congress demand of him, whether it's a budget that would make the middle class and seniors foot the bill for more tax breaks for the wealthiest, or refusing to evaluate how a pipeline would affect our public health and natural resources," said LaBolt.

LaBolt emphasized that the greatest number of new jobs would come not from projects like Keystone, but from green energy.

"President Obama has pursued a comprehensive energy strategy that has increased our domestic energy production, reduced our dependence on foreign oil to below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years and supported more than 224,000 clean energy jobs," LaBolt wrote.

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