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Fact check: Biden falsely claims the most common gas price was over $5 when he took office

<i>Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP</i><br/>During a speech in Syracuse
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
During a speech in Syracuse

By Daniel Dale, CNN

President Joe Biden has made another false claim about gas prices.

During a Thursday speech in Syracuse, New York, Biden accurately said that gas prices, now averaging about $3.76 per gallon, have declined by roughly $1.25 since this year’s June peak of over $5 per gallon. But then he claimed, “Today, the most common price of gas in America is $3.39 — down from over $5 when I took office.” People in the audience applauded.

Facts First: Biden’s claim that the most common gas price when he took office was more than $5 isn’t even close to true. The most common price for a gallon of regular gas on the day he was inaugurated, January 20, 2021, was $2.39, according to data provided to CNN by Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy — much lower than the most common price today, not much higher than the most common price today as Biden said. In other words, Biden made it sound like gas prices have fallen significantly during his presidency when they have actually increased significantly.

The national average gas price on Biden’s Inauguration Day was also $2.39 per gallon, according to data provided to CNN by the American Automobile Association. The national average peaked at about $5.02 per gallon in mid-June, according to AAA, after a spike prompted in part by Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. It has fallen substantially since, including a decline over the last month.

In previous remarks, Biden has discussed the state of gas prices in relation to the Russian invasion or the summer peak, not in relation to when he took office. Regardless of his intentions in his remarks on Thursday, though, the price of gas might well be the single most important price in the midterm election campaign, and this speech was the second this fall in which Biden described it inaccurately — both times in a way that made it sound more impressive.

In late September, Biden asserted that “in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, the average gasoline price is less than $2.99.” In fact, not a single state had an average lower than $2.99 at the time. After CNN inquired about that false claim, the White House made a correction to the official transcript to reflect that Biden should have said $3.99, as he had correctly said in other remarks, instead of $2.99.

De Haan of GasBuddy said Friday that the highest the most common price ever got under Biden, in June, was $4.99 per gallon. The most common price as of this Tuesday was $3.39 per gallon, the number Biden cited in the Thursday speech, and it had fallen to $3.29 per gallon as of Friday.

The White House declined to comment on Friday.

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