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January 29, 2015

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Political stunt draws apathetic voters who just need cheap gas

Updated Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012 | 9:06 a.m.

RENO--The cheap gas offered by the conservative political group Americans for Prosperity in Reno on Tuesday was a political event designed to blame President Barack Obama’s energy policies for driving up the cost of petrol.

But many of the scores of people who lined up around the block to fill up their tanks at $1.84 a gallon didn’t come for politics. They didn’t blame Obama for the gas prices. They just needed cheap gas.

One woman pulled up with a car full of three children, eager to save the 30 bucks on gas — money that would go toward school clothes for her kids. She said her family lives on $1,700 a month.

“This isn’t Obama’s fault. It’s everyone’s fault,” said Kaylen Hartshorn, of Reno. “You can’t elect one man and expect him to solve a million people’s problems. Everybody needs to do their part, help their neighbors.”

But Hartshorn stopped short of saying she would back Obama in November. She’s still trying to make up her mind and is drawn by Republican Mitt Romney’s promise that he can turn around the economy.

Indeed, the cheap gas event shined a bright light on the need generated by the economic recession.

One man literally had to push his truck the final 50 feet after running out of gas waiting in line. Another woman jumped with glee as she left the cashier’s window holding up four dollars in change from filling up her tank.

“I actually got change!” she shouted.

At $1.84 a gallon, which was briefly the national average when Obama took office after plummeting from a peak of $4.11 in July 2008, the customers at the Rainbow Mart on Tuesday were saving about $2 a gallon. Americans for Prosperity is holding a similar event in Las Vegas from 7:30-9 a.m. Thursday at the Speedee Mart on West Desert Inn Road.

For the organizers of the event, the cheap gas offering wasn’t a handout for those in need.

“It’s citizen education,” said Nick Vander Poel, of Americans for Prosperity. “This is issue awareness. We’re educating them on the issues.”

As people filled up their tanks, they stood in the shadow of AFP’s campaign bus emblazoned with the slogan: Obama’s Failing Agenda. One man registered voters. A Hispanic voter outreach group spoke Spanish to motorists filling up their tanks.

Americans for Prosperity is a conservative organization, co-founded by the wealthy political donors Charles and David Koch, that espouses the value of low taxes and low regulations.

But many motorists weren’t eager to listen to a political pitch; they were just thankful for the gas.

Still, while many said they didn’t blame Obama for the gas prices, they weren’t necessarily going to vote for him. Nor were they all that excited about Romney.

“I don’t know who I’m going to vote for,” said nonpartisan voter Rosemary Hufford as she pumped her gas. “I don’t think (Obama) is taking care of business.”

She said Obama could have an effect on gas prices if he cleared the way for the Keystone Pipeline to be built, adding that he could’ve put people to work through the project as well.

“But the Republicans could have gotten a better candidate. Mitt Romney is not up to par when it comes to the average person,” Hufford said.

She bristled at Romney’s comments caught by a hidden camera at a fundraiser in May, implying that 47 percent of voters supporting Obama are victims who want to rely on the government.

“People aren’t looking for handouts,” Hufford said. “People want to work. They want a job so they can take care of their family.”

Mark Miller, whose family owns the gas station where Americans for Prosperity held its event, said he doesn’t blame Obama for the high gas prices, either. But he does disagree with his policies and he was viscerally angry at Obama’s implication that business owners rely on government infrastructure and programs to be successful.

“If these roads weren’t here, would this gas station have just organically appeared?” Miller said. “Would the $1.8 million in start-up costs just have appeared? I didn’t see the government here when I was covering the 2 a.m. shift.”

This story was updated to include the day of the cheap gas event in Las Vegas.

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  1. The comments show that people don't understand the facts, just parrot the spin. Pity!

  2. One of which who controls big oil!

  3. The idea that the Sun is actually a "newspaper" that presents "news" is getting more and more difficult to swallow. The headline and the story both demonstrate very clearly how the media is biased. It doesn't even phase the "newspaper" that gas was $1.84 a gallon when Obama became president and now it's almost $4. If that's not a tax on the poor, I don't know what is. Yet this fabulous newspaper can only play one sided politics.

  4. What a shame! Each person comments in the article shows they do not have the facts. They got one thing right, they said they do not blame the President.

    Are Reno residents that out of touch? Or are they just pandering to the Koch Brothers? Either way, going into the ballot box booth without being informed is irresponsible.

    Wow! Are people really far out of touch?

  5. Dave - Your commet is spot on! I was hoping though
    for free bottles of Sam Adams Oktober Fest.

  6. This President blows about the increased oil production, but he doesn't "blame Bush" for that, he just takes credit. Do you realize that the pipeline from Canada is less than 600 miles from Nevada. We could build a new fuel processing plant, the first in decades, a huge distribution center and service all western U.S. and export off the west coast. Last I checked, we have the Senate Majority Leader from our State. We wouldn't have to shut it down for hurricanes, no excuses for higher prices, and god forbid, we have some export and jobs. Yes, I blame this president, he refuses anything but solar panels.

  7. I love this quote:

    "For the organizers of the event, the cheap gas offering wasn't a handout for those in need.

    "It's citizen education," said Nick Vander Poel, of Americans for Prosperity."

    Yeah, it's not a handout, it's a political machine in action. Tammany Hall? George Washington Plunkitt? Does none of this ring a bell? Giving people a discount on gas in order to "educate" them on how to cast a vote is no different from the Political Machines of old that gave food and low-level jobs to immigrants fresh off the boats in order to secure votes to keep corrupt politicians on office as well as bring their friends in. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Barry Goldwater warned about this fiefdom BS decades ago, and no one listened.


    It can't be any different from George W. Bush kissing the Saudi king on the face and walking around while holding hands with him.

  8. Re David Henry. The pipeline from Canada was designed to deliver this tar sands sludge from Canada to shipping ports and refineries in Texas, on the Gulf Coast for shipment overseas, not to reduce gas prices in the US. Since the pipeline through the heartland of the United States has been, rightfully, shelved by the president, the Canadian Govt. has begun the process of building the pipeline across several Canadian provinces to reach ports in western Canada. It is not going over well there. This was never about shipping this crap to the US for refining, and dispersion to American gas stations. It was, and still is, Canada's attempt to violate sovereign American lands for the express purpose of access to our refineries, and shipping ports. The processed oil,or gas, would then be shipped overseas.

  9. Re the above letter to the editor. The law of supply and demand is once again on display for anyone who understands economics 101. The hurricane in the gulf, the fire at a refinery in California both are directly related to the cost of gas. There has been no refining capability built in this country for decades. When they are shut down or burned down, what do you think happens to the cost of gasoline? It goes up. This too shall pass, as the refineries get back on line to full capacity. Nobody in political office is to blame for this spike in gas prices. Blame the profit mongering oil companies for refusing to expend any of their gigantic profit margins on new and more technologically advanced refineries in this country.

  10. And they need to be high, to discourage gas gulping vehicles that have put this country at a disadvantage globally. Those who can't "afford" the cost of gas will suffer, of course. It still comes down to simple economics: supply and demand. As demand will decrease, the cost of gas will go down. Gas guzzling SUV's, trucks, and elite gas guzzlers will disappear, as they should. You can "blame" whomever you want. Look in the mirror. There will be a paradigm shift in what you (and I) drive, no matter what. It's called progress and technology, and it will not be stopped.