September 25, 2022
President Joe Biden debuted a new messaging strategy that seeks to reframe the gasoline debate in a manner that shields the White House from criticism over historically high prices at the pump.

President Joe Biden debuted a new messaging strategy that seeks to reframe the gasoline debate in a manner that shields the White House from criticism over historically high prices at the pump.

For months, Biden had blamed the current inflationary run, specifically skyrocketing gas and diesel costs, on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to wage war against Ukraine.


During his Wednesday remarks calling for a three-month suspension of federal gasoline and diesel taxes, the president reiterated that rhetoric but additionally sought to claim that criticism raised by Republican lawmakers about how Biden’s strategy had led to higher gas prices amounted to a lack of support for Ukraine — or even complicit support of Russian aggression.

“The American people understood. The American people rose to the moment. The American people did what they always have done: defend freedom around the world. They chose to stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden said. “So for all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you now saying we were wrong to support Ukraine? Are you saying we were wrong to stand up to Putin? Are you saying that we would rather have lower gas prices in America and Putin’s iron fist in Europe? I don’t believe that.”

“If we did stand by, Putin wouldn’t have stopped. Putin would’ve kept going, and we’d face an even steeper price, and it wasn’t just me,” he continued. “Look, I get the easy politics of the attack. I get that. But the simple truth is gas prices are up almost $2 a gallon because of Vladimir Putin’s ruthless attack on Ukraine, and we wouldn’t let him get away with it. And we’re doing everything we can to reduce this pain at the pump now.”

Biden’s Wednesday comments additionally come as the White House is struggling to defend its policies in the face of rampant inflation as the midterm election cycle kicks into full gear.

Reporters have repeatedly pressed White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in recent weeks over the president’s and the administration’s view of the economy given the negative sentiment expressed by voters and the subsequent negative economic signals posted from within the federal government.

“The fact is, we are in a fundamentally different place compared to when the president took office and compared to this time a year ago,” she told reporters during a briefing in early June in defense of Biden’s economic choices. “During this presidency, people felt uncertain about the economy generally, but they actually felt as good about their personal financial situations as they ever have, according to the Federal Reserve survey, with nearly 80% of adults reporting that they are financially comfortable. So that matters as well.”

A number of Democratic officials, on the other hand, have expressed concerns for months over Biden’s fixation on tying inflation to Putin rather than attempting to confront economic uncertainty directly.

“No one is going to have to vote on Vladimir Putin anytime soon,” one Democratic strategist told the Daily Mail on the matter.

Biden’s new gas strategy focusing on Republicans does fall in line with his past efforts to blame economic woes on the GOP and comments senior Democratic officials have previously given to the Washington Examiner.

The president has ramped up attacks on a tax plan put forth by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-FL) in order to claim that Republicans will move to raise taxes on low- and middle-income people should the party take back congressional majorities in November.

“Most people aren’t tuned into the everyday happenings in D.C., but they are understandably tuned into what’s happening in their real-world lives,” one senior Democratic official previously told the Washington Examiner regarding the issue. “We’re a little over six months out, and we’re talking about how everybody who wants a job can get a job right now, but the American people are frustrated — I don’t think anybody is denying that — with gas prices, with inflation.”

Meanwhile, the president himself has expressed additional frustration of late over his poll numbers and inability to communicate his economic wins to voters effectively.


He told Jimmy Kimmel during an interview in late May that “there’s a lot of major things we’ve done, but what we haven’t done is we have not been able to communicate it in a way that is—” at which point Kimmel added, “That’s perfect.”

The president added, “One of the things that is very difficult now is to have, even with notable exceptions, even with really good reporters, they have to get some quick clicks on [the] nightly news, so instead of asking the question — anyway, it just — everything gets sensationalized.”

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