A good Obama comebacker

by Michael O. Allen on August 4, 2008

“Pocket” TV Ad

Obama unveils energy plan, new attacks on McCain

(CNN) — Barack Obama’s campaign released a television ad Monday that calls for a windfall profits tax and accuses John McCain of being in the pocket of big oil.

The ad charges that major oil companies have donated $2 million to McCain’s campaign and says that “after one president in the pocket of big oil, we can’t afford another.”

McCain surrogate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Monday blasted the ad as being “dishonest.”

“That’s really sad,” he said on CNN’s “American Morning.” “I didn’t know that Obama had stooped to dishonesty.”

Romney said it was dishonest because corporations cannot give contributions to candidates and because employees of oil companies have also donated to Obama.

The Washington Post reported that McCain received $1.1 million from oil and gas industry executives and employees in June — three-quarters of which came after he called for lifting the ban on offshore drilling on June 16.

Obama’s ad sources the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics, which showed that Obama has received about $345,000 from the oil and gas industry this year.

Under Obama’s proposal for a windfall profits tax, the government would tax some of the profits from big oil corporations and use it to provide a $1,000 rebate to people struggling with high energy costs.

Obama’s ad comes as he kicks of “Energy Week” — with stops planned in Ohio and Indiana where gas prices and rising heat bills will be on the agenda.

Obama travels to battleground Michigan on Monday to unveil details on his energy policy.

Obama’s campaign said Monday that Obama is going to ask that the strategic petroleum reserves be tapped. He’s expected to ask for a “swap” of light crude for heavy crude with the heavy crude to be “replaced at a later date so that we can get oil into the market,” the campaign said on a conference call.

Obama last month said he did not think the country should use the strategic oil reserves “at this point.”

“I have said and, in fact, supported a congressional resolution that said we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve, but the strategic oil reserve I think has to be reserved for a genuine emergency,” he said on July 7.

Obama on Monday will also discuss an energy rebate to help with gas prices, creating five million “green” jobs and trying to eliminate the need for oil from the Middle East within 10 years.

McCain is expected to spend Monday focusing on small business while in Pennsylvania. He’ll turn his attention to energy at an event in Michigan this week. On Tuesday, he’ll visit the Fermi 2 nuclear power plant outside Detroit for an event promoting his call for an increase in similar plants.

McCain’s campaign made fun of Obama’s energy proposal Monday by distributing tire pressure gauges to McCain’s traveling press corps.

The gag was meant to mock Obama’s remark last week that “making sure your tires are properly inflated” could help conserve gasoline.

Before departing for Pennsylvania, Mark Salter, a top McCain adviser, told the press on board McCain’s plane that campaign staffers had brought along copies of Obama’s energy plan for reporters to study on the flight.

After takeoff, Salter re-emerged with his punch line, passing out the pressure gauges reading “Obama’s energy plan” to the journalists on the flight.

The Republican National Committee said McCain supporters in Michigan were planning to distribute the same gauges at Obama’s energy speech in Lansing today.

The emphasis on energy comes days after Obama shifted toward a compromise on offshore drilling.

Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

He told reporters while he remains “skeptical of some of the drilling provisions,” he believes the deal includes enough alternatives to “move us in the direction of genuine energy independence.”

Responding to criticism that he had flip-flopped on offshore drilling, Obama said, “I made a general point about the fact that we need to provide the American people some relief and that there has been constructive conversations between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on this issue,” he said during a press conference in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday.

“What I will not do, and this has always been my position, is to support a plan that suggests this drilling is the answer to our energy problems,” Obama added.

Obama has spoken out against offshore drilling since McCain in June proposed striking down the federal moratorium banning offshore oil and gas drilling to help alleviate high gas prices.

The McCain camp was quick to applaud Obama’s softening on the issue.

“It’s clear that members of both parties are following John McCain’s leadership toward an ‘all of the above’ approach on energy that includes nuclear, alternative energy and offshore drilling,” said a McCain spokesman.

When McCain called for lifting the offshore drilling ban, Obama blasted him for changing his stance.

“It’s another example of short-term political posturing from Washington, not the long-term leadership we need to solve our dependence on oil,” he said in June.

CNN’s Paul Steinhauser, Steve Brusk and Peter Hamby contributed to this report.

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