Costly Gas Clouds Obama Re-election Prospects

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High oil prices have continued to drive gas prices higher, presenting a potential obstacle to President Obama's bid for re-election.

"My poll numbers go up and down depending on the latest crisis, and right now gas prices are weighing heavily on people," he told Democratic donors in Los Angeles this past week.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. now stands at $3.88 -- a full dollar more than this time last year.

Rising crude prices have already pushed the average price above $4.00 a gallon in six states. Experts predict that number will rise this summer.

"It's getting tough," motorist Billy Wither said. "Like the only time I visit the family is holidays because the gas prices."

"I'm angry. There's no reason for it in my opinion," motorist Warren Losey said. "I'm at the end of my rope."

According to a new McClatchy poll, 36 percent of Americans blame the turmoil in the Middle East and speculators for the price hikes.

The president, aware of the dismal effect costly fuel prices are having on his poll numbers, has taken steps to address the issue.

"Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy sources," Obama said, "we need to invest in tomorrows."

The White House has also ordered the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the possibility of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets.

"The attorney general's putting together a team whose job it will be to root out any cases of fraud or manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices - and that includes the role of traders and speculators," Obama said.

"We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain," he said.

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