(Adds Obama comments to Los Angeles TV station)
WASHINGTON, March 12 U.S. President Barack
Obama said on Monday that jitters about the prospect of a
military conflict involving Iran were a main factor behind the
recent rise in gasoline prices.
"The biggest driver of these high gas prices is speculation
about possible war in the Middle East, which is why we've been
trying to reduce some of the loose talk about war there," Obama
told WFTV, an ABC affiliate in Orlando, Florida.
In a speech last week, Obama criticized what he called
"loose talk of war" by some pundits and politicians concerning
Iran, which the United States and other Western nations accuse
of pursuing nuclear weapons.
The White House has launched a broad effort to defend
Obama's energy policies as the Democratic president has faced
election-year attacks from Republicans over high gasoline
The price of gasoline at the pump has risen more than 12
cents to a national average of $3.81 a gallon in the past two
weeks, according to the Lundberg Survey released on Sunday.
The highest price, of $4.35 per gallon, was
recorded in Los Angeles.
Polls show increasing voter dissatisfaction with his
handling of the issue.
In remarks to KABC-TV in Los Angeles, Obama said the best
way to lower gasoline prices over the long run is to reduce
demand, and that his administration is looking at effects on
speculation in the oil markets and whether service stations are
engaging in price gouging.
"The truth of the matter is that there is no silver bullet.
A lot of this is being set on the global stage because demand in
India and China and other places are up," he added. "And part of
it is also there's a lot of fears right now around the Middle
East and is there a potential war there?"
(Reporting By Caren Bohan and Samson Reiny in Washington and
Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Jackie Frank and Paul