By Michael O'Brien and Ben Geman - 08/17/11 04:58 PM EDT
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) vowed Tuesday that, in her presidency, gasoline prices would fall back to less than $2 per gallon.
Bachmann, speaking to a town-hall meeting in South Carolina, said she would pursue energy policies that send pump prices down to levels not seen since early 2009, at the thick of the U.S. recession.
Bachmann and other GOP White House contenders are calling for much more aggressive U.S. oil drilling — her campaign backs drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and wider offshore production, alleging President Obama has placed too many restrictions on development.
Despite Bachmann’s vow to ease consumers’ costs, however, U.S. officials have few options to substantially affect gasoline prices, especially in the near- or medium-term.
Bachmann noted that the average gasoline price was $1.79 per gallon when President Obama took office. Prices soared earlier this year to reach a nationwide average in May of nearly $4 per gallon, and much higher than that in many areas.
Regular gasoline is currently averaging roughly $3.60 per gallon nationwide, the Energy Information Administration reported Monday, and it’s trending downward.
Bachmann’s remarks on gas prices came during a campaign stop in the Palmetto State, for which the Tea Party congresswoman showed up an hour late.
She took questions from the crowd, and made shout-outs to conservative heroes in the state, saying she had spoken Tuesday with the state’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley. Bachmann said she would like to elect 13 new Republican senators in the mold of the state’s own Sen. Jim DeMint.
Bachmann also lashed out at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s policymaking actions to increase the money supply, through a process known as quantitative easing.
These policies were what Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called “almost treasonous,” though Bachmann’s own remarks didn’t go as far.
“All they’re doing is stealing from you,” she said. “You earned this money, you’ve saved this money. And by the time President Obama’s done, your dollar’s lost its value.”