Rising gas prices hamper Obama

President boasts of reduction in foreign oil usage

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Four years ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama held a photo-op news conference at a gas station near Indianapolis to decry the nation’s ineffective energy policy and complain about “gas that’s approaching $4 a gallon.”

At the time, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded at Joe’s Junction was $3.55.

Nowadays, the price of gas at the same station under President Obama has topped $3.80, nearly twice what it was when he took office, and presidential spokesman Jay Carney on Monday decried Republican presidential candidates who promise to lower the price at the pump. He said Mr. Obama won’t pander to voters that way.

“What he is not willing to do is to look the American people in the eye and claim that there is a strategy by which he can guarantee the price of gas will be $2.50 at the pump,” Mr. Carney said, citing a figure that Republican Newt Gingrich has said he would achieve as president.

“Any politician who does that is lying, because it just — that strategy does not exist. It is a simple fact that there is no such plan that can guarantee the price of oil or the price at the pump. You have to have an ‘all of the above’ approach,” Mr. Carney said.

The Gingrich campaign fired right back Monday, with spokesman Joe DeSantis saying the former speaker “has the White House running scared and running on empty” while offering “fantasy solutions” to high gas prices.

American voters “want Newt’s $2.50 gas plan to dramatically increase domestic oil production so we can get lower prices at the pump,” Mr. DeSantis said in a statement.

As a poll shows Americans are holding Mr. Obama responsible for soaring gas prices, the president Monday trumpeted an administration report that praises him for reducing the country’s reliance on foreign oil.

“We have made progress, with imports of foreign oil decreasing by a million barrels a day in the last year alone,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “Our focus on increased domestic oil and gas production, currently at an eight-year high, combined with the historic fuel-economy standards we put in place, means that we will continue to reduce our nation’s vulnerability to the ups and downs of the global oil market.”

To highlight the interagency report, Mr. Obama scheduled interviews Monday at the White House with television stations from eight markets across the nation — Los Angeles; Denver; Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Orlando, Fla.; Cincinnati; Las Vegas; and Pittsburgh. Six of those cities — Los Angeles and Austin being the exceptions — are in 2012 battleground states.

Even before the president could give those interviews, however, the price of gas at the pumps rose again. The motorist advocacy group AAA said the national average price for a gallon of gasoline rose nine-tenths of a cent to higher than $3.80. Prices rose 3.4 cents per gallon over the weekend.

Last year at this time, the average price of gasoline stood at $3.56 per gallon.

A spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the report underscores that Mr. Obama isn’t focused on the immediate issue of higher gasoline prices.

“With this report, the president is celebrating his recipe for $4 or $5 gas,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. “Poll after poll show Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the president’s work on gas prices. And rather than embrace Republican efforts to increase American energy production, all he’s offering is a history lesson of how we got here.”

Voters are showing signs of holding Mr. Obama responsible. Almost two-thirds of Americans, 65 percent, said they disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is dealing with rising prices at the pump, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday. Only 26 percent — Mr. Obama’s lowest rating in the poll — said they approve of his handling of the issue, while a majority, 52 percent, said they “strongly” disapprove.

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