Obama Rethinks Criticism of SUV Drivers

With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon, President Obama appears to have turned over a new leaf on his view of the difficulties facing Americans who don't own alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles.

Speaking at a Pennsylvania town hall meeting last week, Obama couldn't Escape an awkward moment when his questioner responded to his answer that "big guys" who still drive "big SUVs" need to look to alternative fuel vehicles.

"You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything," Obama said before the audience member at Gamesa Technology Company told him he had one of his own.

"You're one of them? Well, now, here's my point. If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting eight miles a gallon ... you may have a big family, but it's probably not that big," Obama said as the laughter started to rise.

"How many you have? Ten kids, you say? Ten kids? Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then," he quipped.

But that was then. After feeling a volt from critics who said the president showed no fusion with the plight of struggling Americans, Obama seems to have developed new insight that not all the gas guzzlers of the world can be scrapped so easily. He tried a more civic approach during an ABC interview Thursday night.

"That-- that's tough. You know, if you've got to drive to work every day and you don't have an option, in terms of the car that you're driving. And it's taking more and more out of your budget, that's a problem," he said. "Now, one good thing that we did was in December, an example of compromise that a lot of people didn't think was going to be possible, with Republicans, we were able to pass a package of tax cuts that has helped to buffer some of that-- that strain on families. So, the total amount of tax cuts that we passed to boost the economy this year will probably be-- be higher than the additional gas costs."