Clinton Camp May Rethink Gas Tax Strategy

With a big loss in North Carolina and a razor-thin victory in Indiana, the Times reports that Senator Hillary Clinton’s advisers are expected to reconsider her campaign strategy for upcoming Democratic primaries — specifically, whether to continue pushing for a federal gas tax cut.

Clinton advisers also said that the candidates and her team would discuss her political message going forward and whether her signature issue over the last two weeks – a suspension of the federal gas tax this summer – was worth extending to the upcoming primary states of West Virginia and Kentucky.

While some advisers said that the message helped make Mrs. Clinton more popular with working class and financially struggling voters, some analysts said that it angered Democrats in Washington who dislike the gas tax idea, and that it was too small an issue to run on credibly. (Mr. Obama opposes the gas tax relief, calling it a gimmick.)

"In 1976 Ronald Reagan had a big principled argument to continue against Gerald Ford, built around détente and economic policy, and in ’80 Kennedy had a big principled argument about health care and economic policy," said Mr. Shrum, who worked on the Kennedy campaign. "What is her big principled argument against Obama? The gas tax holiday?"

Though polls showed Americans didn’t see the cut as a solution to high gas prices, Clinton upped the ante heading into Tuesday’s primaries by challenging Congress to take an up-or-down vote on the issue. And though some of her advisers may see it as a loser, another Times story from today indicates that the candidate, for the moment at least, might disagree. Speaking to supporters last night in Indiana:

Mrs. Clinton again promoted her plan to lift the federal gasoline tax for the summer and impose a windfall-profits tax on the oil companies.

  • d

    Gas prices have risen by about 9 cents per gallon since the end of last month, which, coincidentally, was around the same time that McCain and Clinton started pushing for the gas tax holiday. By the time June and July rolls around, gas prices could very well go up by more than 18 cents per gallon.

    It’s not as if gas prices were all that low six months or one year ago. They’ve been high for a while, so most people see this plan for what it is: straight up political pandering.

  • john

    Hillary’s quick route to the House depends on cheaper fuel? She’s out of gas…and ideas.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If this guy is right, they’ll be borrowing money to subsidize gasoline by the end of the year.

  • I think you’ve put it rather gently here (about polls showing Americans not thinking of the gas tax holiday as a solution). The truth is, she’s flat-out wrong about the intended impact. Her desperation is embarrassing.

  • Car Free Nation

    It’s easy to see this as a national issue, but Hillary does represent us as a Senator to New York, and this would be very bad for the city. As her constituents, we have the responsibility to write her to let her know.

  • Paul Tinker


    I hope you have a great career as a senator. Now get out.

  • I think the Gas Tax Holiday pander sealed her fate. A few weeks ago she was blowing him out in IN. This move was rightly perceived by undecided voters as insulting to their intelligence.

    It’s still incredibly bad policy. It happens that it was also incredibly stupid politics.

    And that is largely because Obama had the courage to call it what it was.

    Still no word, by the way, from Weiner’s camp.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Still no word, by the way, from Weiner’s camp.)

    Really. And as it happens, Bloomberg is being nice by not calling him out on this.

    Never let him or anyone else forget, he promised an extra $5 billion in federal transit money for New York if CP was voted down, over and above the $8.5 billion the MTA was counting on (without giving up other things in trade). With the gas tax cut, where will the money come from?

    Hey Weiner, while I believe you are a ambition-first pol who panders to existing privilege at the expense of the future, I am always willing to be persuaded to change my mind by the facts. To get my vote (or at least reduce my outraged opposition) all you have to do is come through.

  • Josh

    It’s too late for her to “rethink”. At this point it’s obvious that she’s changing her stance because her position was unpopular and cost her votes.

  • Mark Walker

    I voted for Hillary Clinton. I now regret my vote.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I’m really impressed by the African American voters who supported Obama’s determined policy position of gas taxes by about 92% but a little disappointed at the NASCAR families who only supported it by 40%. By the same token apparently the 8% of African Americans who supported Hillary were really backward by falling for this blatant pandering and still fully 60% of NASCAR people were that gullible.

    The gas tax debate really helped Obama transcend race in North Carolina. I’m glad policy finally has gotten beyond race and religion in national politics.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (The gas tax debate really helped Obama transcend race in North Carolina. I’m glad policy finally has gotten beyond race and religion in national politics.)

    It sure did. It enabled him to recast the race the way he wants it — old politics vs. real leadership, rather than people like us versus people like them. And it came at the right time — when his former pastor seemed determined to take him down.

  • Mark Walker

    There is only one way for Hillary Clinton to emerge from this debacle with her reputation intact. And that’s to stay in the race just long enough to establish herself as the candidate of ideas, effectively pulling an Al Gore. She should talk up livable streets, health care, and other quality-of-life issues. Then she should bow out in a dignified fashion. Otherwise, she’s degraded herself so much — especially with this gax-tax gambit — that I wonder whether she can even win re-election to the senate.


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