Recent gas price rise causes a stir in the Presidential Race

The Takeaway

The price of regular unleaded gas has gone up by 18 cents on average in the last two weeks, according to AAA, and the cost of fuel is once again a hot topic in the political field. 

Former House Speaker and present Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich blamed President Barack Obama for the price rise in a recent 29-minute advertisement. He also claims his policies could bring the national average cost of gas average as low as $2.50 per gallon, if he is elected president. His campaign website is also clearly focused on the issue. In the ad, Gingrich claimed this cost reduction can be achieved through the use of fossil fuels and that Obama is “anti-gas.”

“The Obama administration is so anti-oil, so anti-gas, so anti-fossil fuels in general, including coal, that basically their view is that if we have a lot of it, they don’t want it. They’re prepared to do almost anything to stop the development of these types of programs,” Gingrich said.

However, during a campaign event in Florida last Thursday, Obama claimed Republicans are simply using the rising cost of gas as a “political opportunity.” 

“And you can be sure, since this is an election year, they’re dusting off their three-point plan for $2 gas, and I’ll save you the suspense. Step one is to drill, and step two is to drill. And then step three is to keep drilling,” Obama said.

Obama promoted investing in alternative fuel sources and dismissed the notion of increased drilling as a permanent solution.

“Well, the American people aren’t stupid. They know that’s not a plan, especially since we’re already drilling. That’s a bumper sticker. It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge,” he said.

The cost of gasoline may not be the detriment to Obama’s re-election campaign that it may appear to be, said Stephen Reader, a blogger for It’s a Free Country. He said while increases in fuel cost have hurt incumbent presidents in the past, it’s not necessarily the best signifier that their support will lessen.

“The bigger indicator, though, is if gas prices are rising and the economy is shrinking, and that’s not happening. The economy is still growing, and unemployment numbers look OK. They’re obviously not great, not where they need to be, but if those numbers were trending too, then President Obama would really be in trouble,” Reader said.

While the economy should be one of the biggest issues in the coming U.S. Presidential Election, it remains to be seen whether the recent focus on increased gas prices will hurt Obama’s campaign.

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