Sarah Palin is going wonky again this morning, giving her second major policy speech as the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Her subject: Energy independence, an issue on which she claims expertise as governor of Alaska and that John McCain has been emphasizing as a point of distinction with Democratic rival Barack Obama.
"John McCain and I are determined to set this country firmly on a path toward energy independence. America has the resources to achieve this vital goal. We certainly have the ingenuity. And if John McCain and I are elected, we will supply the political will to finally get it done," she said at Xunlight Energy in Toledo, Ohio.
Palin stressed the need to break from the Bush administration's energy policies and "30 years of failed policies in Washington." She also emphasized the importance of a willingness to take on powerful interests, mentioning Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who was convicted of corruption charges this week, as someone who fell victim to the influence of Big Oil.
"We've shaken things up in Juneau," she said. "Whatever the good ol' boys are running these days, I know it's not Alaska. And that's the kind of serious reform that we need in Washington, because the stakes for our country could not be higher."
She also promoted her advocacy of a $40 billion natural gas pipeline designed to link Alaska to the lower 48 states. But some of her actions on that project have been questioned; the Associated Press reported that there was a flawed bidding process and that it's possible the pipeline won't be finished.
Palin portrayed energy independence as a national security issue, pointing out the oil reserves and ambitions of unfriendly regimes, naming Russia and Venezuela and asserting that Middle East oil infrastructure is vulnerable to al Qaeda and other terrorists.
"All of this explains why, as Senator McCain has said, energy security is not just one more issue on the candidate questionnaire," she said. "It's much more important than that. Energy security is the sum total of so many problems that confront our nation. It demands of us that we shake off the old ways... We must negotiate new hazards, and make hard choices that have long been deferred. And three decades of partisan paralysis on energy security -- that is enough... It is time we meet this challenge in a way consistent with the character of this great nation, and that starts with producing more of our own energy."
Palin, whose first policy speech last week was about special needs children, repeated the McCain mantra of expanding offshore oil drilling, nuclear power, and clean coal, as well as wind, solar, and other alternative energy.
And she criticized Obama and running mate Joe Biden, accusing them of opposing energy sources for the United States that they support for other countries, and hiding behind concern for the environment. "They don't get it," she said.
"Our opponents are always talking about things we cannot do... because our own government won't let us," Palin said. "When you look over the energy plans of Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the allies that they have there in Congress, it's just a long, labored agenda of inaction. And we cannot afford this, not a day longer. And it's the same agenda of inaction we could expect under the one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid."
"As John McCain has observed, for a guy whose slogan is 'Yes, we can,' Barack Obama's energy plan sure has a whole lot of 'No we can't.' "
UPDATE: The Obama campaign responded with a statement from Ohio Governor Ted Strickland:
“In a bit of rare straight talk, Sarah Palin attacked her own running mate’s record today by blaming our oil addiction on ‘thirty years of failure’ in Washington. John McCain was there for twenty-six of those years, during which he voted against alternative sources of energy and stood with oil industry lobbyists instead. Now he wants to give those oil companies an additional $4 billion in tax breaks, even as he proposes pennies for the kind of renewable energy that can end our dependence on Mideast oil and create new jobs. After decades of John McCain’s failed leadership on energy, we can’t afford four more.”
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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.