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President Barack Obama talks rising gas prices with ABC7's Marc Brown

March 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
ABC7's Marc Brown met with President Barack Obama for a one-on-one interview Monday to discuss key issues, including the high price of gasoline and the war in Afghanistan.

President Obama: "No silver bullet" to stop rising gas prices

The average price for a gallon of gas rose a nickel over the weekend. Southern Californians paid on average $4.39 per gallon at the start of the week, about 50 cents higher than the national average.

A new ABC News poll found that 2 out of 3 Americans believe President Obama is doing a bad job at handling the surge in gas prices.

In an interview in the West Wing, President Obama said there is no easy way to immediately bring down the cost of gas.

"When you hear politicians saying that somehow they've got some magic formula to start getting $2 a gallon gas, they're not telling the truth," the president said. "The fact of the matter is, over the long term, the way we're going to save people money is to make sure that we're reducing demand. That's the only way that you can actually reduce gas prices."

A new federal report says domestic oil production is up and dependence on foreign oil is down. Still, many Americans believe that this has little impact when it comes to paying at the pump.

"The truth of the matter is that there's no silver bullet," President Obama said. "A lot of this is being set on the global stage because demand in China and India and other places is up."

The president also cited fears around the Middle East and the potential war between Israel and Iran. During a high-profile visit to the White House last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to strike Iran over its nuclear program.

A progress report on President Obama's blueprint for a secure energy future says oil imports have dropped by 1 million barrels per day and oil production is higher than it has been in a decade. Still, experts say gas could rise to $5 per gallon before the price comes down.

The president said the recently-passed payroll tax cut, which would allow workers to keep about $40 per pay period, could help Americans at the pump.

At a press briefing Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the nation's emergency oil supply, was on the table but there were no plans in the immediate future to tap it.

Afghan war will end by 2014, Obama says

President Obama offered his condolences to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the people of Afghanistan following the shooting spree by an American soldier that left 16 Afghans civilians dead.

The U.S. vowed a thorough investigation into the apparently unprovoked systemic slaughter of the unarmed civilians, mostly women and children.

"I spoke to President Karzai, expressed my condolences and said we treat the death of Afghan civilians like this the same way we treat a series of deaths here in the United States, and we will bring the full weight of the law to bare," President Obama said.

Whether that will be enough to mend the relationship already strained by the inadvertent burning of Qurans by American troops two weeks ago remains to be seen. The Taliban has vowed revenge and Afghanistan wants the rogue American soldier put on trial in their country.

Recent polls show the majority of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan isn't worth fighting. President Obama said his plan to end the decade-long Afghan war by the end of 2014 isn't likely to change.

"It is still important for us to make sure that as we transition the Afghan lead, we don't rush for the exits in a way that could end up leading to more chaos and more disaster, not just for Afghanistan and the Afghan people, but also for the entire region and for our own security and safety," the president said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday she is pleased with how prepared the city of Los Angeles - and Southern California as a whole - is to handle the threat of terrorism.

See video of Marc Brown discussing his experience at the White House