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.”
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.