Republican John McCain, whose photo opportunity on an oil rig was blown away by a hurricane last month, is scheduled to make it today to one in the Gulf of Mexico to promote his energy policy -- and bash Democratic rival Barack Obama.
"Senator Obama opposes new drilling," McCain plans to say, according to excerpts released by his campaign. "He has said it will not 'solve our problem' and that 'it's not real.' He's wrong, and the American people know it. This platform we are at today sits above a field of 160 million barrels of oil, and is capable of producing on a daily basis 55,000 barrels of oil and 72 million cubic feet of natural gas."
"Our nation is sending $700 billion overseas every year to countries that don't like us very much," McCain will say. "When I'm president that's going to stop. We're going to achieve energy independence, and we're going to do it by using every resource at our disposal to get the job done, including new offshore drilling."
McCain changed his position during the 2000 presidential race and called for expanded oil exploration this summer. Obama has softened his opposition, saying limited, environmentally friendly drilling could be part of an overall compromise.
"New drilling has to be part of our energy solution," McCain said. "It will not solve this problem alone. Alternative energy will not solve this problem alone. Conservation will not solve this problem alone. Solving our energy crisis requires an "all of the above" approach. It will require aggressive development of alternative energies like wind, solar, tidal and bio-fuels. It also requires expanding traditional sources of energy like clean coal, nuclear power, and offshore drilling like that done on this rig."
Democrats and their allies are trying to hit McCain for ties to Big Oil, pointing out a surge in campaign donations since calling for more offshore drilling and arguing that a broad-based corporate tax cut would also benefit oil companies.
The Democratic National Committee is handing out "ExxonMcCain '08" bumper stickers to reporters today, along with a stress reliever shaped like an oil drum. The antiwar advocacy group MoveOn.org is planning protests across the country today, including one at Republican Party offices in Boston.
Massachusetts GOP spokesman Barney Keller responded in a statement to the protest: “We were going to go outside and remind the twenty protestors that Senator Obama voted for the 2005 Energy Bill, which gave $2.8 billion in subsidies and tax breaks to the oil companies, but then we realized -- it’s MoveOn.org! They’ve never cared about facts before.”
UPDATE: MoveOn.org, which is backing Obama, also has a new ad that hits McCain and Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, who is in a tough fight to keep her seat in November, for their ties to oil companies.
"Two more Republicans in the pocket of Big Oil," the announcer says.
Democrats also said that the rig McCain is touring, called Genesis, is a joint project of Exxon and Chevron, among the oil companies making huge profits. They also said that the rig took 10 years to produce any oil.
“For three decades, as our energy crisis grew, decision-making in Washington has been rigged against our national interests and the interests of American consumers," Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. "And for almost that long, Senator McCain has been part of the problem. For decades, he has stood with the big oil companies and voted against the development of the alternative energy we need....And now he's standing with the oil companies in opposing a bipartisan compromise in Congress that would expand offshore drilling and, at the same time, make serious investments in alternative energy to break our dependence on foreign oil. When it comes to solving our energy problems, John McCain is just more of the same and America can’t afford it."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.