Gas prices again an issue on the presidential campaign trail

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- As gas approaches $4 a gallon in many parts of the country, Republican presidential hopefuls are using the issue as another reason to attack President Barack Obama.

The issue is expected to come up at Wednesday's CNN Republican Presidential debate in Mesa.

On Monday, at least two of the candidates raised the issue of gas prices on the campaign trail.

In Oklahoma Newt Gingrich vowed he would be able to bring prices down to pre-recession levels were he to be elected president.

"What we do know is under the Obama policy, prices are going up," Gingrich said. "If we go all out to do this, there is no reason we can't get gasoline down between $2 and $2.50 a gallon."

Gingrich has been trying to attract voters to a petition on his Facebook page that asks Obama to immediately authorize drilling of the Keystone Pipeline in Canada.

Speaking in Ohio, Rick Santorum, who is again surging in the polls, also took a shot at Obama. He told a crowd that rising gas prices are "all because of the radical environmentalist policies of this president."

Arizona Gas Tracker:  Get Gas Prices on your Smartphone or iPad

But some voters are not falling for the candidate's promises to bring down gas prices.

"This is politics and I think if we had a Republican president, the Democrats would be blaming him," said Jim Hamra, who was filling up on $3.65/gallon gas in Central Phoenix. "I think regardless of who is president, our prices are going to go up."

Michelle Donati, a spokeswoman for AAA of Arizona, says rising gas prices are due to a combination of factors, including instability in Iran, where leaders have threatened to cut exports to European countries.

"Nothing tangible has happened, but the threat of something happening in an oil-sensitive region of the world is enough cause to cause prices to stay up or elevated," Donat explained.

The average price of a regular gallon of gas in Phoenix was $3.56 Monday, up about 7 cents from a week ago.

Wednesday's Republican debate will be streamed live on azfamily.com, as well as broadcast on both 3TV and CNN.