By: Mark Landler
Published: February 23, 2012, New York Times
MIAMI — President Obama, confronted by the political perils of surging gas prices in an election year, on Thursday defended his efforts to wean the United States off imported oil, even as he conceded there was little he could do in the short run to ease the pain at the pump.
Speaking to students at the University of Miami, in a swing state where gas averages $3.69 a gallon, Mr. Obama said: “Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country; this time, it’s happening even earlier. And when gas prices go up, it hurts everybody.”
The president offered what he called an “all-of-the-above” response, based on more domestic oil production, development of alternative energy sources and stricter fuel-efficiency standards.
Drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans and anticipating potential attacks on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama ridiculed his opponents for recycling a “three-point plan for $2 gas.”
“Step one is to drill, and step two is to drill, and then step three is to keep drilling,” he said.
This was the president’s first major effort to tackle an issue that has surfaced in the last few weeks as oil prices have been driven up by tensions in the Middle East, where Iran has threatened to retaliate against the West because of sanctions over its nuclear program.
Mr. Obama seemed keenly aware of the risk posed by oil prices. A previous cycle of price increases played briefly to the benefit of Senator John McCain during the 2008 campaign, when his running mate, Sarah Palin, revved up crowds with the chant, “drill, baby, drill.”
The president said that the United States is producing more oil now than at any time during the last eight years, with a record number of rigs pumping. The White House, he said, was prepared to open new areas in the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico to exploration.
Read More of the Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/us/politics/obama-will-try-to-blunt-attacks-on-gas-prices.html