National Republicans plan volunteer recruitment at Georgia gas stations amid price protests
By John Ruch
The Republican National Committee (RNC) says it will organize volunteer recruitment drives at Georgia gas stations, capitalizing on outrage over gas prices that is also expressed in a nationwide fad of putting anti-Biden stickers on pumps.
“We’re kind of meeting the voters where they are and seeing first-hand the implications of the Biden administration and the pain at the pump,” says Savannah Viar, a spokesperson for the RNC’s Atlanta-based Southeast regional office.
Viar could not immediately specify any gas stations where the volunteer recruitment is happening. “But metro Atlanta’s obviously a big focus,” she said.
The RNC, a political committee that supports the national Republican Party, is organizing voter registration drives at gas stations in some other states. Viar said Georgia’s Republican ranks are already good, so the party is instead focused here on “recruiting volunteers at gas stations” for such activities as door-knocking and phone-banking. Georgia also does not register voters by party.
While presidents often have little or no direct effect on gasoline prices, they often take the credit or the blame for their volatility. President Biden is currently facing political outrage over an overall inflation in consumer prices, of which fuel prices are the biggest part.
Some of that outrage is being expressed through the sticker fad, which involves a variety of designs but the same theme. They all use a photo of Biden pointing and the phrase, “I did that!” The idea is to position the sticker on a gas pump so that Biden is pointing at the gas price and taking credit for how high it is. The sticker fad began last year but began gaining national media attention in the past month or so. The stickers are now appearing on pumps in metro Atlanta.
Viar said she thinks the stickers are “funny” but are not the RNC’s work. “We don’t have any involvement in that,” she said. “That’s purely grassroots and organic-driven.”
But it’s the sort of sentiment that is leading the party to do the volunteer recruitment at the pumps in addition to other community spots. “The gas stations [recruitment] is a new effort,” she said.
Viar claimed that it’s “pretty clear that this [gas price increase] is a direct result of the Biden administration killing American energy independence” — a reference to his killing of a major pipeline and various oil-drilling programs — and other policy “disasters.” However, gas prices are always volatile. In fact, they have begun decreasing in Georgia in the past week, and presidential actions rarely have immediate impacts on them. Price changes are also relative; one reason the percentage increase is high year-over-year is that prices fell during the worst of the pandemic.
Supply issues, worried investors and Biden-supported sanctions on Russian oil in response to the invasion of Ukraine are among the possible factors cited by experts in national media reports.
Nonetheless, politicians try to have some immediate impacts. Biden himself late last year announced the release of a large amount of oil from national reserves while acknowledging it would not lower prices “overnight.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, arranged recently approved legislation to suspend the state’s 29.1 cents per gallon excise tax on gasoline through May, which will take time to trickle down to consumers. That will also mean less funding for transportation projects down the road.
The Democratic Party of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, which represents many gas station owners, did not respond to comment requests. The Georgia Republican Party also did not respond to questions about its involvement, with Viar saying it had notified the RNC about the inquiry.