Declaring that America has "an abundance of energy," Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan today attacked President Carter's energy policies for discouraging domestic production and making the United States "dangerously dependent" on foreign oil.
"We will get America producing again," Reagan promised before an audience of several thousand in a downtown Cleveland square. "Every available resource we have must be used to free us from OPEC's domination."
Reagan said the Carter-backed tax on crude oil is "a bad tax" because, he said, it will reduce domestic oil production. He also rapped the administration for extending price controls on natural gas imposing "stringent restrictions" on offshore drilling leases and failing to issue any onshore oil leases in Alaska.
"For three years and eight months Mr. Carter has led us to believe that there is an acute shortage of energy resources in this country," Reagan said. "The truth is America has an abundance of energy. But the policies of this administration consistently discourage its discovery and production."
Despite these claims Reagan was notably more cautious than he had been in the Republican primaries about the extent of U.S. energy resources. Reagan used to contend that there was a greater potential store of oil in Alaska than in all of Saudi Arabia -- a statement disputed by a number of geologists as well as by Reagan's opponents.
Today's speech, like Reagan's economic message in Chicago the day before, tried to rely on more generally accepted data.
Citing figures from the Energy Department and the U.S. Geological Survey, Reagan said that "America has a proven and potential 47-year supply of oil, including oil shale, a 27 year supply of natural gas and at least a 321-year supply of coal."
The speech was short on actual proposals for increasing energy production except Reagan's familiar one of removing as many government restrictions as possible. An aide said that Reagan's specific proposals would be detailed in a forthcoming energy message.
Earlier, Reagan campaigned for black votes before a small Cleveland audience in which the Republican nominee stressed his record as California governor in appointing minorities.
He also repeated proposals he made last month at the Urban League in New York, where Reagan endorsed an Urban Homesteading Act and a plan in which businesses within designated depressed inner-city areas would be given tax breaks if they agreed to hire local residents and create new jobs.
Reagan's strategists are not expecting any significant outpouring of black votes for their candidate. But they believe that Reagan can reach some target constituencies -- ticket-splitting voters and better-educated upper-income Republicans -- by showing that he is sensitive to the needs of inner cities and the people who live there.
Reagan and his aides appeared in good spirits today as they enjoyed the first cool weather of the campaign.
The relative optimism in a campaign that was floundering a week ago was caused by a number of factors -- a conviction that President Carter is on the defensive after his refusal to accept the League of Women Voters debate invitation, a relatively trouble-free week for Reagan and a poll showing Reagan leading Carter in Ohio by 10 percentage points.