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McCain Urges More Drilling, Blames Obama for Gas Prices

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By Howard Kurtz
Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Ad: (Narrator) Gas prices -- $4, $5, no end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America. No to independence from foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?

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(Chant) Obama! Obama!

(Narrator) One man knows we must now drill more in America and rescue our family budgets. Don't hope for more energy, vote for it. McCain.

Analysis: John McCain may try in this ad to blame rising gas prices on Barack Obama, but after 7 1/2 years of the Bush administration, that's a stretch. McCain himself said last week that America's "dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making"; Obama has been in Washington for less than four.

It's a bit audacious for McCain to charge that "some in Washington" still oppose offshore oil drilling, since that was his position, most notably in his 2000 presidential campaign, until he reversed himself last month and called for a lifting of the 27-year federal ban on such energy exploration. (He still opposes drilling in Alaskan wildlife refuges.) Nor is there any evidence that Obama opposes "independence from foreign oil," although his energy plan is very different. The senator from Illinois has called McCain's plan for a temporary gas-tax holiday a gimmick.

Drilling off the coasts would increase U.S. oil production but would have no short-term impact on gas prices. While some analysts disagree, an Energy Department report last year said production would not start until 2017 and have no "significant" effect on prices or supplies until 2030.

By picturing Obama next to a gas pump, using audio of his supporters chanting, and invoking the Democrat's signature word "hope," McCain is trying to present himself as a hardheaded realist who would boost production. That argument may have some appeal at a time of public frustration with energy prices, but less so in such states as Florida and California, which would bear the environmental impact of renewed drilling.

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