Stephanopoulos Gripes: High Gas Prices Are Something Republicans 'Think They Can Exploit'

Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday highlighted skyrocketing gas prices, sympathetically wondering "What, if anything, can the White House do about" them.

Stephanopoulos focused on Republican congressional response to gas prices, warning that the GOP is "talking about these high gas prices over this February break. This is something they think they can exploit." On April 25, 2011, the former Democratic operative turned journalist worried about the nation's "gas gripes."

On that day, he focused on how this impacted Barack Obama: "Soaring prices lead to new pain for the President as big oil gets ready to report record profits."

Stephanopoulos on Tuesday talked to Jake Tapper about the possibility of a brokered convention.

Discussing a replacement candidate, Tapper discounted the idea, saying, "I think this is what...beltway Republicans believe in other than Santa Claus."

Of course, it's not just Republicans speculating about this. It's the media. NBC's Chuck Todd on Monday insisted, "I still think it's only 20-25% chance."

Appearing on Morning Joe, he speculated:

CHUCK TODD: Let's say we get into this scenario. I sort of envision it happening this way. You get this new candidate, you cannot tell the voters that they have no role in this. So I think at this point a Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney would have to somehow work with this new candidate. Like, you know, if it were Mitch Daniels, I think he would be stuck making Santorum, say, his running mate so you could try to seal the deal before you ever got to Tampa. You don't have time to deal with this once you get to Tampa....So this is -- you want to talk about happening behind the scenes. I think this would truly happen behind the scenes somewhere between June and July, and by August we'd know the ticket.


A transcript of the February 21 Stephanopoulos segment can be found below:


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get more on the political fallout now from ABC's Jake Tapper in Washington. And, Jake, I see the White House is having an event today where they're touting the payroll tax cut that just got agreed to last week. But, if gas prices keep climbing, that could wipe out all the benefits. What, if anything, can the White House do about these rising gas prices?

JAKE TAPPER: Short term, George, there's very little a President can do other than releasing gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. You might recall last summer, President Obama did that. Released 30 million gallons during the Libya military conflict in which supply was interrupted. But longer term, there's more that a President can do and that's why President Obama is under pressure from Republicans to allow more drilling here in the U.S. Domestic drilling is up right now, but the White House is very worried because high gas prices feed into consumer lack of confidence. And that could undercut all the good he's done in his own poll numbers with the improving employment numbers, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you see the Republican leadership, Speaker Boehner sending out his troops talking about these high gas prices over this February break. This is something they think they can exploit.

TAPPER: Absolutely. Republicans are trying to tie the ability of President Obama to release fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves to force him to allow that Keystone pipeline that he rejected a few weeks ago, you might remember. Newt Gingrich is out there saying under his plans, he can bring gas prices down to doctor $2 a gallon. Rick Santorum warning about the $5 a gallon prices that might be headed here this summer. It is a big issue for Republicans and they are running with it.
       
STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, quick question on the Republican race. Remember, Jon Karl, our colleague, got some news over the weekend from Republican senators saying that if Mitt Romney loses in Michigan next Tuesday, he's going to be calling for other candidates to get into the race. Most Republican voters, according to the new Gallup poll out this morning, don't want that. This is still fanciful talk, isn't it?

TAPPER: I think this is what Republicans believe in- beltway Republicans believe in other than Santa Claus. This is not a serious issue, having a brokered convention or some savior candidate comes in. The nominee is in the race right now. It's just a question of sorting out who that will be, probably still Mitt Romney

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org