Union Leader: Americans for Prosperity event sells cheap gas in Manchester
By DAMIEN FISHER
MANCHESTER — Everett Downey almost couldn’t believe he only spent $27 to fill up his pickup truck.
“I spend about $100 every week on gas,” he said.
The truck driver from Weare was one of the hundreds of people to show up Sunday to buy gas for the price of $1.84 a gallon at Klemm’s Mobil on Elm Street. Cars backed up all the way down West Pennacook Street and onto Canal Street, some waiting more than an hour, for the opportunity to buy gas at the price it was four years ago.
“This is a reminder to people that we can do better,” said Corey Lewandowski, state director of Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire, the group the sponsored the event.
Prosperity for America paid the difference in the gas prices for an hour and a half on Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., letting people buy up to 15 gallons of gas for $1.84 a gallon.
Lewandowski and other Americans for Prosperity volunteers pumped gas for the throngs of people looking for a good deal. The price offered is the average price of a gallon of gas four years ago, before President Barack Obama took office, Lewandowski said. He faulted Obama’s policies for causing the price of energy to spike.
“With all the money we’ve spent on the federal stimulus, it’s time to give the people some relief,” he said.
Five months before the 2008 election, gas prices averaged $4.12 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.
Gas prices at Klemm’s are set a $3.74 for a gallon of regular, $3.89 for mid-grade, and $4.09 for premium. Store owner Arthur Klemm agreed to the event because he knows many of his customers are hurting in the current economy.
“People can’t afford to fill up anymore,” Klemm said.
The price of gas has shot up in large part because the supply of gas is dominated by foreign sources, Klemm said.
“The fact is, we haven’t had the energy policies to develop our own natural resources, and that’s hurt us,” Klemm said.
George Buxton, a retired Manchester Highway Department employee is thrilled with the promotion.
“They should do this more often,” Buxton said.
Though he goes through half a tank of gas a week, Buxton said the current gas prices have forced him to change to a smaller car.
Most people filling up Sunday said they have had to cut back on their spending in order to afford enough gas to get to work, or pick up their children at school.
“I don’t do much anymore,” said Barbara Perkins.
Perkins, a Manchester resident, spends $15 to $20 a day on gas for her car just to get to work. That means she’s cut back on going out, going on trips, and cut back on some groceries.
Moriah Webster, of Manchester, goes through at least $80 a week in gas. Her mother uses the car to get to work, and she needs it to get her daughter to and from school.
“I try not to go anywhere unless it’s necessary,” she said.
Donna Froland commutes from Manchester to Nashua every day, spending at least $65 a week getting to and from work. She’s cut back on groceries, just sticking to the necessities now, and she’s cut back on trips to visit her grandchildren. She waited almost an hour and a half on Sunday for the chance to buy the cheap gas.
“I’ve been looking forward to it all week,” she said.
Leo Archambault puts around $125 a week in his truck, partly for work as a maintenance man. He’s not only had to cut back on groceries, but he’s become a small farmer to fill in the gaps.
“We’re now raising pigs and keeping a garden to help out with expenses,” he said.
Lewandowski hopes the discounted gas reminds people of how much the price has gone up, and how hard it is to get by in the economy. Too many people haven’t taken notice as gas and food prices have gone up gradually over the past four years, he said.
“It’s a little like putting on weight, you don’t notice a few pounds here or there, then you go to your high school reunion and you’re 150 pounds overweight,” he said.