GOP adopts Dem strategy on gas prices

Republicans are borrowing a page from the playbook Democrats used against former President George W. Bush and criticizing the Obama administration's handling of rising gas prices. The tactic could score the GOP political points if, as expected, the price of gas remains high for several months to come.

In the summer of 2008, as gas prices hit record highs, 49 percent of Americans believed the Bush administration was to blame for the country's energy problems, according to a Gallup survey taken at the time. That was up from 38 percent in 2006. Moreover, just 17 percent of Americans believed Bush was doing enough to lower the cost of fuel.

This perception came after then-presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spent months pounding the Bush administration over the price of gas and for subsidizing oil companies with tax breaks. 

Republicans are now the ones trying to capitalize on the public's perception that the president has some control over the price of gas.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) claimed that $4-per-gallon gas "brought my state to its knees" in 2008.

He cited Energy Secretary Steven Chu as saying, in December 2008, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

"This administration's policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy," Barbour said last week at a breakfast hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "In the name of reducing pollution; in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive."

The Senate Republican Communications Center picked up on that in a release Tuesday, noting Chu's quote and questioning Obama's "gas price goals."

--Updated at 12:17 p.m.