Scott Conroy writes in Real Clear Politics:
As gasoline prices shot up for the 13th straight day on Monday to a new national average topping $3.50 and oil prices rose to over $106 a barrel, the cost of energy seemed poised once again to rise to the forefront of the political discourse just as the 2012 presidential campaign generates steam.
Of all the prospective Republican candidates, none may have a better opportunity to benefit politically from a nominating cycle in which gas prices take center stage than former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin…
Palin can legitimately boast of a wide breadth of knowledge and wealth of experience on energy issues. For her, high gasoline prices may be an opportunity to demonstrate her own candlepower….
it would be difficult for Palin’s GOP rivals, and even her Democratic critics, to deny that energy issues fall directly into the wheelhouse of the former Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner who went on to lead a state where almost 90 percent of the budget is funded by oil revenue. As Tina Fey might say, Palin can see oil pipelines from her house.
During an appearance on Fox News last weekend, Palin nodded in anticipation and smiled confidently as host Jeanine Pirro lined up a question about what the government should do about rising gas prices.
Speaking with unbridled relish, Palin replied that opening the strategic oil reserves was not the solution to the problem and reverted to her old mantra that the government should “drill here and drill now” before going into a more in-depth criticism of the Obama administration’s energy policies.
“Back in ’08, our U.S. crude also was trading at about $100 a barrel as it is today for about six months, and that was right before our world economy imploded,” Palin said. “And now here we are back again, so [Obama's] timing – his destructive timing – of locking up 97 percent of our off-shore and not allowing ANWR to be touched, not allowing domestic drilling to take place to the degree that it should, it is terrifying where he is leading us in terms of being at the mercy of foreign regimes that would seek our demise to produce energy for us.”
Palin for years has placed a particular emphasis on topic during her time in office and beyond.
The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which Palin signed into law in August of 2008, set the framework for a major natural pipeline proposal that would transport natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope to the Lower 48.
On the vice presidential campaign trail just weeks later, Palin spoke more frequently about energy issues than any other subject, and the emotional high-point of her boisterous rallies often came when she led crowds of tens of thousands of people in chants of “drill, baby, drill!”
As Palin continues to generate criticism from members of the Republican establishment, who frequently suggest that she has not demonstrated a thorough understanding of the issues facing the country, the energy topic could offer a prime opportunity for her to prove them wrong.
As she continues to mull a presidential run, Palin figures to take particular note that energy issues figure to loom especially large in the nation’s first voting state of Iowa.