President Biden loaded first cat Willow onto the Marine One helicopter for yet another long weekend in Delaware, as first lady Jill Biden cut short her husband’s replies to questions on what most Americans are struggling with — record-high gas prices and soaring inflation.
The cat, stowed in a crate, was spotted by journalists Friday being walked across the White House lawn as the chopper hummed.
Biden, who on Thursday gave his first on-the-record press interview in four months, took several reporter questions before joining Willow and Jill for the trip to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., including about soaring inflation and fuel prices.
The president sought once again to blame oil companies for the high prices, but the exchange was cut short when the first lady intervened and said, “We gotta go!”
“It should not be this high,” the president told reporters on the lawn. “They’re making exorbitant profits, number one. Number two, I’ve contacted them, my team has, to ask what their plans are and to give any suggestions they have.”
He added: “There are 9,000 leases — 9,000 — that they can drill … but they’re not doing it.”
Biden went on, “Number three, I think we’re going to be in a position where we’re gonna —.” He did not complete the full thought as the first lady intervened, but he proceeded to take a final question about when he would visit India, saying he would at some point.
In response to other questions, Biden discouraged US citizens from traveling to Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion — amid reports on three captured Americans — and defended his decision to visit Saudi Arabia, where next month he will meet Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Biden insisted, “I’m not going to meet with MBS. I’m going to international meeting and he’s going to be part of it.”
The US intelligence community says the prince ordered the operation that killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden said “I have been briefed” about reports of US citizens being captured in Ukraine, but “we don’t know where they are. But I want to reiterate: Americans should not be going to Ukraine now.”
Inflation and high fuel prices have contributed to dismal approval ratings for Biden, and Republicans are seeking to harness public frustration ahead of the November midterm elections.
The annual US inflation rate hit a fresh 40-year high of 8.6% in May. According to AAA, the cost of diesel on Friday hit a new all-time high of about $5.80 per gallon. The average cost of regular unleaded gas hit its all-time high Tuesday at more than $5 per gallon.