Monday, February 19, 2018
Politics

President Barack Obama talks gas prices, energy policy in Miami

MIAMI —President Barack Obama stopped in Miami on Thursday to refuel his re-election campaign with $4 million in big-donor cash and to bash Republicans for politically "licking their chops" over the high price of fuel at the pump.

"Some politicians always see this as a political opportunity. You're shocked, I know," Obama said to a large crowd of University of Miami students.

"Only in politics do people greet bad news so enthusiastically. You pay more, and they're licking their chops?" Obama asked rhetorically. "And you can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas."

Obama's likely reference was to third-place Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, who has promised $2.50-a-gallon-gas on a "drill-here, drill now" platform.

All the Republican candidates have criticized Obama for not encouraging enough domestic fuel production and for rejecting what's known as the "Keystone XL Pipeline," which would deliver oil from Canada to Texas.

Obama never mentioned Keystone, but he did say that "my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada."

Later at a Biltmore Hotel fundraiser, Obama took credit for the growth in jobs, but received his loudest applause for giving the go-ahead to kill Osama bin Laden.

Obama didn't tout his accomplishments during the UM speech, where he got the loudest applause for holding his hands in the schools trademark "U." During the speech, the president stayed almost exclusively on the topic of oil.

The president also boasted that "under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years."

Unmentioned by Obama: nearly all of that drilling was approved under his predecessor, President George W. Bush.

Obama said, in the old days, he would stay and watch the Miami Heat-New York Knicks basketball matchup featuring Jeremy Lin, but he had other things to do. Specifically, he has to raise money.

Obama hit up three high-dollar fundraisers: one at the swank Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables (tickets, which started at $500, were doubled to $1,000), another at the Pinecrest home of a top Democratic fundraiser (pictures with the president cost as much as $15,000) and a third at the Orlando home of basketball star Vince Carter (dinner plates cost up to $30,000 each).

About a dozen protesters gathered outside the Biltmore, holding homemade signs, including one that read, "Obama Marxist/Muslim Dictator."

The Miami area events fetched nearly $2 million and the Orlando dinner brought in slightly more than that.

Since Obama also spoke publicly, the lion's share of the Florida trip — which will exceed $1 million — will be paid for by taxpayers.

Obama's visit, the second this year, comes as the economy is showing signs of improvement along with his poll numbers. Still, most Florida polls show his approval rating under 50 percent in a state that's still plagued by high unemployment and home-foreclosure rates.

The Republican National Committee noted that, since last year, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in Miami has risen 82 percent, to about $4 per gallon.

"President Obama promised to be a leader on energy policy when he was campaigning in 2008, but gas prices have skyrocketed since he's been in office with most Floridians paying well above the national average," Sharon Day, a Broward Republican and RNC co-chair, said in a written statement.

"It's clear from President Obama's focus on campaigning in Florida today that he's more concerned about spending taxpayer dollars on his campaign trips than he is with saving American jobs or reducing prices at the pump," she said.

A national Quinnipiac poll released Thursday shows voters believe the economy is improving, but they don't think Obama should be elected to a second term. Voters say that the economy has begun to recover, 54-43 percent, a 51-point shift in opinion since Sept. 1.

But Obama gets a negative 45-49 percent job approval rating, and 50-45 percent say he does not deserve to be re-elected.

The closer it gets to election time, the worse high gas prices are for Obama, said Brad Coker, pollster with Mason Dixon Polling & Research, which conducts surveys for the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald.

"Right now, it doesn't matter what the price of gas is today or what the unemployment rate is today for the president," Coker said. "It's going to start to matter in the last week of September. That's when people will really start to pay attention."

Obama's speech had a defensive tone to it, pointing out that developing nations such as China and India are growing and consuming more fuel. More demand equals higher prices, Obama said, suggesting he wasn't to blame.

Obama repeatedly said the "phony-election year promises" were easy to make. But the long-term commitment for alternative energy will eventually make the United States energy independent.

"There are no short-term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices," he said. "And anyone who says otherwise is just not telling the truth."

Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei and McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Erika Bolstad contributed to this report.

Comments
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Updated: 3 hours ago
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Updated: 7 hours ago
President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Donald Trump signaled support for one piece of gun control legislation on Monday, five days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead and scores injured."The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

One of the quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign that has stuck with me came from an unidentified Donald Trump supporter who shared his appraisal of the "Access Hollywood" tape on an episode of Showtime’s "The Circus."Having heard Trump boast on...
Published: 02/18/18
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Published: 02/18/18
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Published: 02/17/18
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Published: 02/17/18
Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A red heart-shaped balloon rose above crowd of several hundred people that had gathered at Williams Park on Saturday evening to mourn Wednesday’s school shooting in Broward County and to protest gun violence.Below the balloon, signs ...
Published: 02/17/18
Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

It’s been five years since the guns and immigration debate collided at the same time on Capitol Hill. This time, the results were even more unproductive.In early 2013, weeks after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators at an elementary school ...
Published: 02/17/18