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Barbour claims Obama admin wants gas prices to go up

AP

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour departs the National Governors Association winter meeting in Washington on Sunday.

From NBC’s Catherine Chomiak
Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) today alleged the Obama administration wants gas prices to go up in order to make alternative sources of fuel more competitive and to reduce pollution.

"I tell ya, in 2008, $4 gasoline brought my state to its knees before Wall Street melted down,” Barbour said, “and we've blown through $3 a gallon on our way to $4, and it reminds me of what the Secretary of Energy said in 2008, Secretary [Steven] Chu, then Dr. Chu, said what we really need in the United States to get the cost of gasoline up to where it is in Europe $8 or $9 a gallon. We don't need that where I am.”

He added, “This administration's policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy in the name of reducing pollution, in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive."

Chu told the Wall Street Journal in 2008 that "somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."

He has since backed away from the statement and hasn’t advocated that position as a member of the administration.

Here's the New York Times from January 2009: "Steven Chu, the Nobel laureate scientist who is President-elect Obama’s choice to be energy secretary, said in testimony prepared for his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that high oil prices were a threat to the economy, backing away slightly from statements made in his last job, as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, that gasoline prices should be higher."

And in the Wall Street Journal article, in the paragraph following Chu’s quote, was this: “But Mr. Obama has dismissed the idea of boosting the federal gasoline tax, a move energy experts say could be the single most effective step to promote alternative energies and temper demand. Mr. Obama said Sunday that a heightened gas tax would be a ‘mistake’ because it would put "additional burdens on American families right now."

While speaking at the Chamber of Commerce this morning, Barbour also hit the administration on jobs which he contended hasn't been its focus.

“When this presidential administration came in to office,” he said, “clearly, the main thing on the American people's mind was job creation, and they expected our government -- from top to bottom -- to be focused on job creation. Yet, Congress spent 15 months on the health care reform bill.”

Barbour, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012, weighed in on another probable candidate. When asked about Newt Gingrich's recent moves closer to a presidential bid, Barbour exclaimed, "I'm crazy about Newt.  We've been friends for 30 years."

Barbour was also asked about his fellow Republican governor, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and was supportive of his recent budget moves.