Obama Talks Energy in Affluent Black Community

The president defends his energy plan before a captive audience. 

Posted: 03/15/2012 02:15 PM EDT
Obama Talks Energy in Affluent Black Community

To say that President Obama’s speech at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD, had energy would be a bit of a double meaning. The colorful audience in the heart of what’s become a mecca for affluent African-Americans in suburban Washington, DC, had all the fervor of a lively church service as the president delivered the gospel according to his energy policy.


He began his pitch by first acknowledging the escalating gas prices that are putting quite a strain on people’s budgets. Obama said, “I know this is an especially important topic for everybody right now because you guys have to fill up at the gas station,” Obama said. “Yeah,” the crowd yelled in a call-and-response fashion.


But while the president reiterated his claim that there is no silver bullet to fix climbing gas prices, he spent most of his time touting what his administration is doing to deal with the energy crisis. Obama said that America is producing more oil than at any time in the last eight years, has quadrupled the number of oil rigs, and reduced our dependence on foreign oil resources.


“In 2010, our oil dependence, the amount that we're bringing in, the percentage we're bringing in, was under 50 percent for the first time in 13 years. We've got to do better than that, and we can do better than that,” he said.


The president also addressed his Republican haters on the campaign trail who have attempted to pin the blame for the high gas prices on him. He said, “A lot of the folks who are running for a certain office who shall go unnamed, they've been talking down new sources of energy." He added, “They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers.”


But the president’s speech, as is often the case, was not complete without a message for Congress to get beyond the gridlock that has become customary and finally vote to end subsidies for oil companies. He said, “On top of the money they’re getting from you at the gas station every time you fill up, they want some of your tax dollars as well. That doesn't make any sense. Does it make sense?”


“No!” the audience shouted back.


“It is time for this oil industry giveaway to end,” the president answered.


But no good church-style speech would end without a call to action. Obama encouraged the receptive audience to get on the phone, write, and tell Congress to “do the right thing.” He said, “Tell them we are going to build an economy that lasts. Tell them we’re going to make this the American century just like the last century.”


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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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