I suppose this was inevitable - credit Alec MacGillis of TNR for ferreting it out:
Curiously overlooked, though, is just what a shift this rhetoric is from the approach that Romney took on the issue of gas prices while governor of Massachusetts. Befitting his profile as a moderate Republican who cared about the environment, Governor Romney responded to price spikes by describing them as the natural result of global market pressures and by calling for increases in fuel efficiency—the same approach that he now derides Obama for taking as president.Will this be a big story? Probably not. As Greg Sargent notes, there have been so many of these reversals that the media has flip-flop fatigue.
At moments, Romney went so far as to make high gas prices out to be a welcome reality for the foreseeable future, one that people needed to learn to live with. When lieutenant governor Kerry Healey, a fellow Republican, called for suspending the state’s 23.5 cent gas tax during a price spike in May 2006, Romney rejected the idea, saying it would only further drive up gasoline consumption. “I don’t think that now is the time, and I’m not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline,” Romney said, according to the Quincy Patriot Ledger’s report at the time. “I’m very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay.”
Romney’s response to high gas prices while governor fit into his broader effort to promote “smart growth” policies in Massachusetts—a focus that is rare among Republican leaders but that he took up with alacrity. After taking office in 2003, he combined the state’s transportation, environment, and housing departments into a single “Office for Commonwealth Development” under the command of Doug Foy, a prominent local environmentalist who was known to commute to work 20 miles by bike. Together, Romney and Foy pushed for legislation to channel new development into existing communities, thereby reducing the need for new road construction and the car dependence of Massachusetts residents. They put forward a sweeping “Climate Protection Plan” in 2004, which included, among many other things, calls for more car-pooling, public transit and tax breaks for motorists who bought hybrid vehicles. Clean energy was the future, Romney declared at a conference in 2005: “This is an industry that is going to be explosive in its growth in the next decade.”