Obama blames Republicans for pipeline decision
He is also defending his record on energy. Good luck with that, Barry.
Analysts and strategists said Obama has few options to bring down gasoline prices in the short term and said his energy policies had evolved from focusing on renewable fuels to promoting nuclear energy and natural gas.
"Basically he's come a long way from the campaign of '08. I think that reflects pragmatism on his part," said Guy Caruso, a senior adviser on energy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Progress or not, Obama has vulnerabilities when it comes to energy. Earlier this year he nixed TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline under severe pressure from environmentalists.
The president blamed Republicans for forcing him to take a decision under a tighter timeframe than the State Department said it needed to study the project.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and off-and-on frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, said that decision was a sign that Obama wanted to please his political base more than he wanted to improve the economy.
Analysts say even if Keystone were approved, the increase in oil supplies would not affect gasoline prices for years, but the decision is nevertheless a key flashpoint in the election.
"The juxtaposition of the high gas prices and Keystone has (the White House) understandably nervous, and even though those two ... have almost nothing to do with each other substantively, they create a political narrative that Republicans could be successful in using to paint Obama as anti-energy and pro-high gas prices," a Democratic strategist said.
Politically, Obama's vulnerability over gasoline prices could be especially deadly in Western states that he needs to win to remain in the White House.
The price of a gallon of gas could be well over $4 by late April. And depending on events in the Middle East, they could go much higher than that. That's when the real questions by voters will begin. And the GOP better have some good answers to take advantage of it.
With his moratorium on drilling in the Arctic, the Gulf, off the East Coast, and just about anywhere else, the president is reaping what his policies have sown since 2009. Domestic oil production has increased in spite of his policies, largely due to new technologies - including fracking - that his base is agitating for him to eliminate.
He doesn't have a political leg to stand on. But he will seek to shift blame to the GOP anyway.