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NEW: Obama Says He Gets ‘Challenge’ of High Gas Prices

Friday, March 23, 2012


Obama talks with AAA representatives

Fresh off a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma where he focused on energy issues, President Barack Obama told the nation’s largest auto club he feels the people’s pain when it comes to skyrocketing gas prices, an issue that threatens to dog his re-election bid.

“… I understand what folks are going through, because it wasn’t that long ago that I was having to fill up my gas tank and drive to work, shuttle the kids back and forth to school and their events, and it takes a big bite out of folks’ paychecks,” Obama told Yolanda Cade, managing director of public relations for AAA recently. “The challenge is that we’ve been going through this kind of cycle of ups and downs in gas prices for decades now. We don’t have the control over our own energy security the way we need to.”

How to gain that control has been a major issue in Republican primary debates, and it is staring Obama square in the face as he tries to convince voters to keep him in the White House. 

“Right now,” the president said, “the key thing that is driving higher gas prices is actually the world’s oil markets and uncertainty about what’s going on in Iran and the Middle East, and that’s adding a $20 or $30 premium to oil prices, and that affects obviously gas prices … So as more and more people around the world see their standards of living rising, they purchase cars, they have demand for oil, that creates a greater demand worldwide and that raises the price.”

The key, said Obama, is to focus not just on oil production, but fuel efficiency and alternatives. 

He also addressed concerns that rising gas prices might sabotage a recovering economy. 

“People are very sensitive to oil prices,” Obama said. “The one thing that I think is important for us to remind voters, and I know this is a small consolation, but the payroll tax cut that we passed at the beginning of this year and then we’ve now extended to the end of the year, saves the average family about $1,000 a year. And that is helping to buffer some of these rising gas costs. “


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