AFP -- US President Barack Obama tried to head off Republican criticism over rising gasoline prices Thursday, ridiculing their responses as bumper-sticker policies designed to win an election, not to solve the problem.
Visiting the hard-hit election battleground of Florida, Obama responded to a barrage of Republican criticism that has accompanied a 13 percent increase in gasoline prices over the last year.
Accusing Republicans of trying to profit from higher prices at the pump, Obama lamented: "Some politicians always see this as a political opportunity. Only in politics do people greet bad news so enthusiastically."
"Since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for two dollar gas. I'll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling," he said.
"Well the American people aren't stupid. You know that's not a plan -- especially since we're already drilling. It's a bumper sticker. It's not a strategy to solve our energy challenge."
Average prices currently stand at $3.61 a gallon, but the American Automobile Association has predicted they could reach $4.25 a gallon by May.
Sensing weakness, Republican presidential candidates have seized on rising prices as evidence that Obama's energy policies have failed.
White House hopefuls Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich point to Obama's opposition to both offshore drilling and the construction of a pipeline from Canada, and oil company tax breaks, as contributing to higher gas prices.
Republicans also point to the bankruptcy of solar panel firm Solyndra after it received $535 million in government loan guarantees as evidence that Obama has failed.
On Thursday, Obama was at pains to empathize with struggling consumers, while arguing that the president has little direct control over prices.
"Just like last year, the biggest thing that's causing the price of oil to rise right now is instability in the Middle East -- this time in Iran," he said.
In response, Gingrich accused Obama of making excuses. "Instead of offering a real plan to lower the cost of gasoline, President Obama offered excuses and fantasies," Gingrich said in a statement.
"Blaming instability in the Middle East for high gas prices is not leadership. Neither is promising magic future technologies that won't satisfy today's energy needs." Entire column...
Blog author's comments - The Democrats have been saying since the Carter administration that domestic production won’t solve immediate problems. That it would take 5-10 years. That was many years ago and we are now more dependent on dictators and tyrants for our oil than ever before.
The reason we have higher gas prices today is because the Democrats have done everything they can to make it impossible to drill in America.
If the government would have allowed construction of new refineries and more drilling for our own oil, we would not be as dependent on other countries for so much oil.
The Keystone pipeline from Canada which Obama did not allow would have been a secure supplier for some of the oil the US needs.