Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Presidential Debate: No Transpo Talk, Just Gas Prices and Oil Production
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 01:10 PM
Although the second question in Tuesday night's presidential debate was about gas prices, those hoping for conversation about transportation policy -- or even the word "transportation -- were disappointed.
And while President Barack Obama once spoke frequently about the need to renew the country's infrastructure, that word also wasn't uttered by either candidate.
But here's what was talked about: a transcript of the conversation shows the word “gas” 30 times.
In response to a question about how much the U.S. can control gas prices, President Obama said: "The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. So here's what I've done since I've been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years. Natural gas production is the highest it's been in decades." A few moments later, he said that during his administration, "we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you're going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas."
Governor Mitt Romney disputed the president's numbers. "Oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production is down 9 percent," he said, adding that "I'll get America and North America energy-independent. I'll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses. We're going to bring that pipeline in from Canada." This led to a spirited exchange about domestic oil production.
Later in the debate, the candidates sparred over the auto industry bailout, but during the debate the words “transportation,” “infrastructure” and “transit” weren’t mentioned once.
President Obama did use a “bus driver” as a salary example during a tax policy question; he also said he’d take the money the country has been spending on war and “rebuild America — roads, bridges, schools.”
No matter what their commitment to transit, one thing is certain: one of these men will be gracing a D.C. fare card in January.