Obama doesn’t drive, but he feels your pain at the pump

April 19, 2011

President Barack Obama says he sympathizes with the frustration over high gas prices — even though it’s been a while since he’s had to fill a tank.

“I’ll admit to you, it’s been a while since I … filled up at the pump,” Obama joked during a townhall-style event. “Secret Service doesn’t let me get out, and they don’t let me drive anymore.” USA

The event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale was part of Obama’s ongoing effort to sell the deficit-reduction plan he introduced last week and gear up for a 2012 re-election campaign.

Gas prices, which hit a 2.5-year-high last week at $3.84 a gallon, have weighed on public opinion in recent months. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll in March found that gas prices were playing into Americans’ low confidence in the U.S. economy, and a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week found rising energy costs hurt Obama’s approval rating.

Obama — who assured his audience that “it wasn’t that long ago that I did have to fill up my gas tank” – blamed speculators and oil companies for price increases and said his administration would investigate unfair practices and monitor gas stations for price-gauging.

In the long-term, he said the United States needs to look at increasing the production of domestic oil, using more biofuels, and developing more fuel efficient cars and other technology. Obama said government investment in new technologies led to the Internet, GPS devices and other products.

“There’s not going to be any single silver bullet,” Obama said. “What we’ve got to do is develop all these energy alternatives. All of them, though, are going to require some investment in new ways of thinking, new basic science, new research.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama prepares to take questions from audience in Virginia)

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