McCain Didn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't Think It Matters

On the heels of reports that the McCain family failed to pay property taxes on one of their seven homes for four years, the Orange County Register reports that John McCain didn't know what the price of gasoline was the last time he pumped it -- and doesn't think this example of just how out of touch he is matters (h/t Think Progress).

When was the last time you pumped your own gas and how much did it cost?

Oh, I don't remember. Now there's Secret Service protection. But I've done it for many, many years. I don't recall and frankly, I don't see how it matters.

I've had hundreds and hundreds of town hall meetings, many as short a time ago as yesterday. I communicate with the people and they communicate with me very effectively. (emphasis added)

It's hard to see how this isn't damaging to John McCain's presidential candidacy. Nate Silver is probably right that the tax deliquency scandal, while burning McCain to an extent, is probably a medium-impact scandal. But not knowing the price of a gallon of gasoline and then going ahead and saying that it doesn't really matters probably cuts harder against McCain. For one, Americans rank the price of a gallon of gas as one of the two or three biggest problems facing the country today, so this is a story that voters are already primed to pay attention two. But beyond that, McCain has demagogued on the issue so much in recent weeks and months -- trying to badger Barack Obama into supporting a temporary repeal of the federal gas tax, a move that would not provide any meaningful savings to the American driver while either robbing the federal highway trust fund (thus weakening the national infrastructure and cutting jobs) or increasing the national deficit -- that I think this embarrassing admission by McCain exposes the Republican nominee as not only ill-informed but also surprisingly out of touch with the situation facing voters.

Does this mean I trust the establishment media to give this story a full airing in the coming days, or even tomorrow? Not really. I am now beyond being surprised by the extent to which some have been willing to cover for McCain's mistakes and admissions (did any of the Sunday shows mention the McCain tax delinquency issue today?). Nevertheless, if the gas price ignorance story is able to reach a broader audience, I believe it would likely cause some real headaches for the McCain campaign.

(The wording of this post, including the title, has been slightly altered to be more precise.)

Tags: gas, John McCain, Out of Touch (all tags)

Comments

23 Comments

Obama needs to hit him hard on this

Not knowing the price as gas and doesn't even care.

How stupid could McCain be.

by puma 2008-06-29 12:46PM | 0 recs
We win this argument

The irony here is that the elitist meme towards Obama was pushed HARD, and we're seeing news of McCain's elitism day after day.  A bunch of mansions in which he neglects to pay taxes on, no concept of what the average person deals with in terms of fuel prices, and he's got more credit card debt on one card than most people have in their entire savings.  We win this argument by a landslide, and we need to continue bringing it up because too many people still see McCain as someone they can relate to.

by thatpurplestuff 2008-06-29 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

McCain was not asked what the price of gas was. He was asked what the price was the last time he pumped it.  He hasn't pumped it since he got Secret Service protection and doesn't remember.

It will be interesting to see if this can be spun into not knowing the price of gas. Of course, what the price is depends on where you live.

by dMarx 2008-06-29 01:07PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

I think this is overblown. I suppose I don't mind since the Right has been making bigger mountains out of smaller mole hills for years, but when I read the question and answer I took the answer to mean (adding clarification in brackets):

"Oh, I don't remember [when I last pumped my own gas]. Now there's Secret Service protection. But I've done it for many, many years. I don't recall [how much it cost at the time] and frankly, I don't see how it matters."

It was dumb of him not to immediately follow up with something like: "But I know what the price is now, over $4 per gallon--and it's all because the irresponsible Democrats won't drill in ANWAR."

--Kibitzer

by Kibitzer 2006 2008-06-29 01:40PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

I think most people can't remember the last time anyone pumped gas into their limo or private jet.

by Jeter 2008-06-29 02:21PM | 0 recs
But Obama is the elite!

we all know that!

by fbihop 2008-06-29 01:44PM | 0 recs
Mitt Romney is kicking himself

If his oppo research team had discovered McCain didn't pay property taxes on his house and didn't know the price of gas, Romney would probably be the nominee.

He didn't lose FL and CA to McCain by that much.

For what it's worth, Mr. desmoinesdem thinks it's possible Romney's oppo researchers knew about McCain's property tax delinquency but didn't use it because perhaps Romney has some tax problems of his own. I doubt that, though.

by desmoinesdem 2008-06-29 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

Okay, I may not support McCain, but get real. When was the last time Obama pumped gas and how much did it cost? Come on guys, this is weak.

by RJEvans 2008-06-29 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas

Obama is getting at least as much of a free ride from the media as McCain.  He's certainly not receiving the kind of mugging that the Clintons, Gore or Kerry got, and I don't expect him to.  If he wants to make an issue of McCain not pumping his own gas, he can, but media bias should be the least of his concerns.

by Upstate Dem 2008-06-29 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re:

This like the 'i stopped beating my wife' issue is another irrelevant distraction.

Of course a millionaire Senator running for President with secret service protection doesn't know the price of gas!

I know we want to hurt McCain, but lets not pretend to be outraged about this. This shouldn't be damaging to his campaign.

His insane tax policy, his insane Iraq policy... they outrage me. This is a complete irrelevance.

The price of gas is a HUGE issue but McCain not knowing the exact price is 'gotcha' politics that means nothing.

by liberalj 2008-06-29 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re:

Actually, quite a few millionaire Senators know exactly what prices people are paying for gas throughout the country. Senator Obama had it calculated out and was so aware of it that he could estimate the savings to consumers if a gas tax holiday was enacted. So that means Senator Clinton was also really very aware what the price of gas is as well.  The point is that I don't think that even while proposing a gas tax holiday that McCain even knew the price of gas then. Also, I have heard McCain justify the expense of the war in Iraq many times by noting that one of the biggest expenses is keeping vehicle gas tanks full. Great first post, BTW.

by Jeter 2008-06-29 03:12PM | 0 recs
But that's just it

"His insane tax policy, his insane Iraq policy... they outrage me. This is a complete irrelevance.

The price of gas is a HUGE issue but McCain not knowing the exact price is 'gotcha' politics that means nothing."

It's not 'gotcha' politics when his policies he is proposing is a direct cause of his ignorance on the price of gas. Any person who had a real perception of how much these prices hurt would know that the policies McCain is proposing (such as tax cuts for the rich) will not help middle America. In this instance I would argue that it is valid.

by SocialDem 2008-06-29 04:09PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

The Republicans would be all over this if Obama made this kind of slip up although I think it's a minor one and I know what McCain was probably trying to say.  We need to go on the attack here.  I support Obama 100% but at some point he needs to start attacking McCain hard.  He's trying to define himself now to the American public which is the reason he's been positive.  However, come September he needs to attack and attack viciously.  You know it's funny...voters always claim they hate negative campaigning but they love a good boxing match, and the negative ads always seem to resonate with them as well.  I understand that Obama and perhaps some of his strategists might have a problem attacking McCain because of his record of service in the military; however, the GOP had no problem attacking Max Cleland and John Kerry.  Let's not repeat Kerry's mistakes and inability to attack his opponent and defend against attacks.  

by Steve24 2008-06-29 02:38PM | 0 recs
What is going on here?

One of the single most important issues to the people who are going to vote this November is the price of gas. The man can't be so out of touch that he doesn't even have a clue. Does he know what the price of a barrel of oil is going for right now? Does he know about the politics and countries involved with that? How not knowing the price of gas (even a range of prices or a recognition that it greatly affects the entire economy and tens of millions of people) can be dismissed as an ineffectual gotcha game is not the issue. McCain had the chance to at least feign interest in something other than the comforts of his rarified existence shielding him from the fact that many people attempt to have hair trigger control of the pump handle because the cost means that some other necessity will have to be reduced.

by Jeter 2008-06-29 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

These statements are great BUT the DNC needs to make sure that the statements get legs & are repeated often by broadcasters/talking heads as talking point controversies. If a Democrat said anything half as bad as this the GOP would ensure the talking heads had their talking points regarding out of touch politicians by the next AM so it didn't seem like they were targeting him, rather it was a controversy that merely arose.  So it has to have legs now & walk.

by jrsygrl 2008-06-29 03:08PM | 0 recs
Was he saying

the cost of gasoline doesn't matter? Or is he saying that it doesn't matter that he doesn't know how much it is?

by georgiapeach 2008-06-29 03:49PM | 0 recs
For the guy who

demagued about the gas tax one would expect he would have atleast some sense of what the price of gas is.  This is just a symptom of McCain's ignorance of how middle America is really hurting and is a sure tell of why his approach to the economy is so Hoover-esque. He just simply has NO CLUE how badly middle America is hurting right now.

by SocialDem 2008-06-29 03:50PM | 0 recs
Re: No Clues?

I don't think Democrats are invulnerable on the "no clue how badly middle America is hurting right now" front.  Any party that's been as complicit as the Democrats in the economic rape and selling of America better be careful about throwing stones.  

I work on a custodial crew part time and what I hear is not sympathetic to the Democrats -- especially when Obama came out against the gas tax amnesty.

We think the Republicans are out of touch.  The people I work with think all politicians are out of touch . . . and they don't really believe that the Democrats care/hear/understand any better than the Republicans.

The cynicism is beyond deep . . . it's fundamental:  Congress works on bribery and working folks are going to get screwed no matter who gets elected.

Figure out how to answer that and you've won the election.  Keep coming down on the "elitist" side, and you'll lose.  

by prodigal 2008-06-29 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas

I wonder if one reason the newz report push McBush's "mistakes and admissions" is that the Obama campaign doesn't push them with the same bulldog, ankle gripping, determination as the GOP propaganda machine does.

If one of Obama's shoes come untied a million faxes go screaming to every conceivable outlet claiming it as sign if incompetence and inexperience.

And the lazy newzies have their talking points handed to them.

by planetwave 2008-06-29 04:34PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas

I wonder if one reason the newz  doesn't report McBush's "mistakes and admissions" is that the Obama campaign doesn't push them with the same bulldog, ankle gripping, determination as the GOP propaganda machine does.

If one of Obama's shoes come untied a million faxes go screaming to every conceivable outlet claiming it as sign if incompetence and inexperience.

And the lazy newzies have their talking points handed to them.

by planetwave 2008-06-29 04:35PM | 0 recs
What's Obama's plan?

Do tell.  Is it honest? Is it realistic? Is it really his or did he just crib it from Bill Clinton?

by Betsy McCall 2008-06-29 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Doesn't Know the Price of Gas, Doesn't

"It's hard to see how this isn't damaging to John McCain's presidential candidacy."

Oh, it's pretty easy to see, actually.  Since it's a manufactured lie by Think Progress.  McCain knows the price of gas.  He was answering a different question.  Think Progress distorted the facts because that's what they do.

by Patterico 2008-06-29 08:18PM | 0 recs
What is this - dailyKos?

The premise of this post is not true, and not even within a reasonable fudge of being true. McCain has been addressing gas prices, and oil prices, and their impact on other goods and service prices on the campaign trail almost daily for the last couple of weeks.

Contra Patterico, above, this is not typical of Think Progress. They're usually pretty scrupulous about getting things right, or at least getting things defensible. This is neither. (Google is your friend.)

by RonK Seattle 2008-06-30 07:11AM | 0 recs

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