Senior officials and others close to President Joe Biden view those prices as the cost that most directly affects voters’ everyday lives, and therefore their perception of the economy as well. As such, Biden and his top advisers fixate on them with an intensity that some aides describe as obsessive. White House chief of staff Ron Klain has grown particularly absorbed by the issue, checking the average price of a gallon of gas every morning. He’s lamented that it’s the one item everyone knows the cost of because gas station billboards are so ubiquitous throughout the country.
“Could they advertise anything else?” Klain rhetorically, and ruefully, asked one recent visitor.
The White House’s focus on gas prices is bred from two sobering political conclusions top officials have made. The first is that they have little control over the problem. The second is that as prices rise at the pump, so do Democrats’ odds of a midterm wipeout — especially as the average U.S. gallon of gas hits fresh record highs.