Dana Says Bad Poll Numbers Are Due To War In Iraq — And What About Those Gas Prices!
Q Yes, Dana, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll says that 82 percent of Americans believe the country is heading on the wrong track; that’s up 10 points from a year ago. What do you say to those 82 percent?
MS. PERINO: Well, look, we’re aware of polls. They’re something that I know that news media organizations love to do, and in fact it helps — every week you could see a new poll from multiple organizations. So I think that what we would say to that is that, one, we understand that the war in Iraq has brought down — has brought negative feelings about where the country is headed. But also, one thing you can track over and over again through the years is high gas prices. High gas prices have a really negative effect on the psychology of the country, as well as on the economy. It’s like a drag on the economy and a tax on the working people.
So best — the most important thing we can do is make sure that, first of all, Congress doesn’t do any more harm to the problem and exacerbate higher gas prices. And also, we can take some steps to try to get us out of this mess, because we have seen this over time, over the past several years; every spring these gas prices go up, and mostly because we have problems with supply and demand. There’s a lot of demand, growing demand throughout the world, and a limited supply.
So we need to do a couple of things: one, drill domestically here in environmentally sensitive ways so that we can become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, and at the same time continue to push investment into these new technologies like lithium-ion batteries, which would allow all of us to have the opportunity to buy a vehicle that runs on batteries for the first 40 miles, which is pretty much the average for daily use in America.
So there’s a variety of things that we can do. But in regards to the poll numbers, I’ll just refer you to your own experts.
Change In Position? What, And Abandon Missionary?
Q Dana, what about the calls from members of Congress to stop putting oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, including a letter recently from several Republican senators to do that? Any change of position from the White House?
MS. PERINO: Sure. Look — change of position? I should have let you ask your question first before I say, sure. No, our position hasn’t changed, in that this is — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is in place for specific national security reasons, in case there are supply disruptions. We tap into it every once in a while when we have a major supply disruption, like we did, I think, right after Katrina.
But the President has — believes that we need an even larger Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to protect ourselves against oil shocks, such as, like I mentioned, instability that might happen in a country around the world.
Q What specific steps — when you say the President says we should be doing more domestically, what specifically should we be doing?
MS. PERINO: Jim, you must have been gone for the past three weeks. We talk about it every day.
Q Well, I’ll tell you what. He talks about drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, but as Representative Peterson, Republican from Pennsylvania, pointed out last Friday, you have a dual policy. In the President’s own budget, he prohibited the Department of Interior from spending any money on pre-leasing or leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf. So the President’s budget precludes any drilling or exploration of the Outer Continental Shelf, and yet he says we should be drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf.
MS. PERINO: Let me go back and look at that, because I think there’s different reasons for that.
Q As you know, one of the biggest reserves of oil and gas is right off the coast of Florida. Florida has been (inaudible) drilling all over the Outer Continental Shelf on the East. The President made a deal with his brother not to drill in Florida. Is the President now reconsidering —
MS. PERINO: I think that you — it’s a lot more complicated than that, Jim, and I think you have to go back and look at the miles that they talk about, in terms of how far out the drilling would be. But again, I would point you to a state like Virginia, which, on a bipartisan basis, their state decided that they wanted to do this, and they were precluded from doing so. I think that —
Q Florida is a gold mine, and we haven’t actually —
MS. PERINO: Look, you can — the same could be said about ANWR. I mean, there’s a lot of different places that we could find sources of energy here in the United States.
Q The President didn’t make a deal with the Governor of Alaska. He made a deal with his brother.
MS. PERINO: But Jim, we’re not talking about — there’s — as I just said, there’s lots of different places. And I would point you back to there’s a hundred-mile limit, or something like that — this is going back several years ago, so it’s slightly more complicated than how you’re just trying to paint it here.