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Obama gets warm reception in snowy NH

By Garrett Brnger
Associated Press / March 1, 2012
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NASHUA, N.H.—President Barack Obama urged New Hampshire residents Thursday to use their "political bull detector" on campaign promises to lower gas prices as he outlined his plans to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.

Gas prices were $3.70 across the street from Nashua Community College, where Obama spoke to a crowd of about 700 who braved icy roads to attend the event. Prices were affected by speculation due to international instability with Iran, the president said, not just supply.

He said United States needs to increase its oil production while investing in new energy sources.

"Now, if there's one thing I know about New Hampshire, it's that your political bull detector is pretty keen," Obama said. "You know that we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets. If somebody tells you there are, they're not telling you the truth."

The solution to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, he said, would include drilling but also new automotive technologies and energy sources and would continue after his administration was gone.

He praised the city of Nashua's new, natural gas-powered trash trucks and pointed to a declining dependence on foreign oil since his administration took control in 2009.

Foreign oil accounted for less than 50 percent of domestic consumption in 2010, he said, the first time in 13 years.

While Obama touted large American oil initiatives such as the Oklahoma pipeline to Texas, he also called for a greater focus on renewable energy.

The crowd cheered Obama's call for cuts to around $4 billion in federal subsidies for the oil industry, though some in the crowd questioned his suggestion to use the money to develop other energy sources.

"It's basically shifting one subsidy for another," said Nashua resident David Heath.

Obama thanked the crowd and those who had greeted him at the tarmac "with icicles on their eyebrows."

"I am from Chicago. So you know a little snow was not going to keep me away," he said.

Attendees after the speech said they appreciated the "all of the above" strategy the president advocated and its reach into the future.

"We're not looking at the short term; we're looking at the long-term and what our children will have to look forward to," said Carolyn Oguda, another Nashua resident.

The president's visit comes one week after Vice President Joe Biden's speech in Manchester on strengthening the middle class. Obama won New Hampshire in 2008, but the state is expected to be highly contested this year.

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