Could rising gas prices cripple the recovery?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 13,000 mark Tuesday for the first time since 2008, when it was headed in the other direction. The last time the Dow was at 13,000, gasoline was selling for a nationwide average of $3.79 a gallon. The recession sent the price plunging. As of Tuesday night, it's $3.57 and heading up.

Since mid-December, gas been rising more than three cents a week. CBS News correspondent Norah O'Donnell looks at how the White House has weighed in on this.

The big worry at the White House is that those rising gas prices could cripple the current recovery and hurt the president's re-election hopes. Still, a lot of the president's advisors admit there are no quick fixes. On Tuesday, they really pushed back against that criticism that it's the president's fault.

As President Obama on Tuesday cheered passage of the payroll tax cut, he acknowledged the extra $40 in families' paychecks may now be needed to help cushion the blow of higher gas prices.

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"That $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas, which is on a lot of people's minds right now," he said.

Republican rival Newt Gingrich on Tuesday said Mr. Obama was to blame for the rising cost. Then he made a campaign trail promise:

"I would really change things dramatically. $2.50 a gallon is not a radical idea. It was $1.13 on average in the four years I was Speaker [of the House]. It was $1.89 when Barack Obama was sworn in."

That kind of promises prompted this from White House Spokesman Jay Carney at a press conference: "This kind of situation that comes periodically because of a rise in the oil -- the price of oil globally -- often results in magic solutions being put forward by politicians who may or may not know what they're talking about."

O'Donnell asked Carney: "Is the rise in gas prices the president's fault?"

"Look, the rise in gas prices is clearly the effect of a variety of factors on the global price of oil," he said. "They include unrest in certain regions of the world. They include growth in areas like China and India."

The instability in Iran has speculators driving up the price of oil and there is also increased demand-supply is an issue. And as people here at the White House like to point out, oil and gas production has actually gone up every year since President Obama has been in office and it's at its highest since 2003.

CBS News' research department looked into which Americans are paying the highest gas prices. It found that the number one town in America is the president's home state -- Hilo, Hawaii at $4.44 cents a gallon. The top ten cities on the mainland with the highest gas prices are all in California, leading off with Santa Barbara at $4.11.

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    Norah O'Donnell is a co-host of "CBS This Morning." She also contributes to "60 Minutes"