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Mr. Schaffer blamed Democratic tax policies and environmentalism for the recent rise in gas prices. The Schaffer campaign also has blasted Mr. Udall for supporting a 50-cent increase in the federal gas tax in 2002.

“The $4.11 gasoline is an unfortunate tragedy and it is not by accident,” Mr. Schaffer said at the debate. “It is a function of limiting and restricting America’s ability to provide its own energy.”

Mr. Udall, meanwhile, took several shots at his opponent for backing tax reductions for the oil and gas industry.

“I don’t think anyone here thinks the oil and gas industry needs additional tax breaks,” Mr. Udall said. “What we need to do is take those tax breaks and put them into a new energy economy.”