Republican George Allen is betting that a backlash against rising gas prices can help carry him back to the U.S. Senate.
Allen’s campaign is pinning the blame for prices at the pump on President Barack Obama and, by association, on Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine. In its latest effort to advance the issue, Allen’s campaign today launched a new website, www.TooMuchAtThePump.com, which compares the average price of regular gasoline when Obama took office to today’s much higher price. It has a banner at the top with images of Obama and a smiling Kaine to reinforce the message.
Allen and Kaine are running for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Democrat Jim Webb, who defeated Allen in 2006.
“In the three years since President Obama took office and Tim Kaine became his Democratic National Committee Chairman, gas prices have skyrocketed,” said Allen campaign manager Mike Thomas in a news release. “Tim Kaine may say he’s for an ‘all of the above’ approach, but he has repeatedly tried to slow, delay and block access to more affordable energy. George Allen has a plan to unleash our American energy resources and reduce prices in the long-term. America can’t afford to sit back and scratch our heads as gasoline prices continue to surge. We need decisive leadership and the political will in Washington to take action.”
The political debate over gas prices has been turned on its head since four years ago, when Democrats were assailing Republican President George W. Bush for skyrocketing prices at the pump. Average gas prices reached a record high of $4.16 per gallon during the final summer of Bush’s term before plunging that autumn during the depths of the recession and the financial crisis. Many analysts say global market forces drive the price of oil and that U.S. presidents can do little to move prices at the pump.
Kaine’s has called for a multifaceted energy strategy that includes cultivation of domestic oil and gas resources as well as a commitment to expanding the use of lower-polluting energy sources. Kaine has voiced support for legislation introduced by Webb and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner that would allow for oil and gas exploration off Virginia’s coast and include revenue-sharing provisions that would benefit the state. The Obama administration announced in November that Virginia would not be included in its five-year offshore oil and gas leasing plan, an omission that disappointed state political leaders.
Kaine spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine said Allen is merely trying to take political advantage of skyrocketing gas prices.
“It’s not surprising that George Allen would cheer rising gas prices,” Hoffine said. “The industry has helped pay his salary. They’re funding his campaign. They’re making record profits off American citizens. And, now George Allen is trying to use it for political advantage. Tim Kaine has a different approach. He implemented Virginia’s first comprehensive energy policy to expand all energy sources, including alternative energy, that would reduce our dependence on oil. And, unlike George Allen, he would get rid of unnecessary taxpayer subsidies to big oil companies who don’t need help from the government.”
– Michael Sluss