As gas prices rise to record levels for this time of the year, former Democratic Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said it is “totally ridiculous” to blame President Obama for the spike.
“I think blaming the president for high gas prices is like blaming Rudy Giuliani for 9/11,” Granholm said today on the “This Week” roundtable. “It’s totally ridiculous.”
“If you opened up every single potential drilling opportunity in the United States, it would have the effect of lowering gas prices three cents, maybe,” Granholm added. “And that’s because, of course, oil is traded on a global market.”
Former Republican Michigan Gov. John Engler countered that the Obama administration has not done enough to open public lands for drilling as prices have soared in the last three years. He said the high prices will be a key election issue.
“It’s real simple. I mean, gas prices have gone up 100 percent basically from his inauguration day to present time,” Engler said. “It’s not the only issue, but it is a marker.”
But ABC’s George Will said anger over high gas prices will not lead to an easy victory for Republicans in November.
“Right now, they think they’re going to float in on high gas prices,” Will said of the GOP field. “And that’s just preposterous.”
“Newt Gingrich said the American people have a right to demand $2.50 gas,” Will added. “They have the right to demand that lobsters grow on trees, but I mean, this is economic nonsense.”
ABC’s Cokie Roberts said the economy and job creation will be the driving issue in the general election once the Republican nominee is settled.
“Do people wake up the day before the election and say, ‘I want this guy who’s in the White House now to stay there for four more years because I trust him more than the other guy to make my job situation better?’ That’s the fundamental question,” Roberts said.
Engler agreed, saying voters will focus on leadership on the economy.
“Voters aren’t analysts,” he said. “Voters are emotional, and it’s about leadership. And they know what they’ve got. If they like that, they can vote to keep it.”
Granholm, host of Current TV’s “The War Room,” said the contested Republican race has been “amazing” for Democrats, as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum battle each other — potentially damaging each other in the process.
“Democrats are hoping this lasts for a while,” Granholm said. “Even someone who came into this as perceived to be somewhat moderate, which was Mitt Romney, he’s had to move so far to the right, I don’t know how he walks it back.”
Engler, now president of the Business Roundtable, still backs Romney to win the critical Michigan primary this week, and to continue on to the nomination.
“Mitt Romney’s on message in the state and I think he has, sort of, righted himself and is edging ahead,” Engler said. “And I still think he’s the only one who’s prepared to go the long, long distance.”
And Engler said he believes Romney can compete with Obama once the focus turns to the economy in the general election battle in the fall.
“Most of the American electorate are still disapproving of the performance of the president on the economy,” Engler said. “The Obama record now comes into sharp focus, and I think that’s where the debate comes down.”