The McCain campaign released its latest television spot today, which tries to link Sen. Barack Obama to high gas prices. In "Pump," an announcer suggests the current record prices are due to Washington politicians who "are still saying ‘no’ to drilling in America." As a crowd chants "Obama, Obama" and the presumptive Democratic nominee picture appears on the screen, the announcer asks, "Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?" The announcer then asserts Sen. John McCain "knows we must now drill more in America and rescue our family budgets," before imploring viewers not to "hope for more energy, vote fore it."
Production Notes: This spot strikes us as more than a little unfair. McCain not-so-subtly implies Obama is responsible for record gas prices — which, on its face, is ridiculous. As Howard Kurtz notes:
John McCain may try in this ad to blame rising gas prices on Barack Obama, but after seven and a half 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 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 drilling.
The Obama camp quickly released a message pointing out that McCain has been in Washington for 26 of the 30 years in which the foreign oil problem has been developing:
“John McCain said recently that ‘our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington.’ As someone who’s been in Washington for 26 years, Sen. McCain is one of those politicians, and he’s consistently opposed investments in renewable energy that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Now he’s proposing nearly $4 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies and Washington gimmicks that he admits will only provide ‘psychological relief’ to consumers."
The McCain campaign also claims "drilling more in America" will "rescue our family budgets" which many experts find dubious. From Reuters:
"It would be a relatively small effect, because it would take such a long time to bring those supplies on," [Energy Information Agency head Guy] Caruso said during a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the EIA’s new long-term international energy forecast. "It doesn’t affect prices that much."
Most energy experts say it would take five to 10 years to find oil in the closed areas and bring the crude to market. Caruso said the additional supplies would amount to only a couple of hundred thousand barrels of oil a day.
"It does take a long time to develop these resources, and therefore the price impact is muted by that," he said.
Nonetheless, high energy prices remain a top issue. A recent Rasmussen poll found 67 percent of Americans support lifting the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling, and 64 percent believe doing so will lower gas prices. With numbers like these, McCain may have an edge. If he can create the perception that his energy plan will lower gas prices, the truth may not matter.
Here’s the script:
***ANNCR: *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?
***CHANT: *Obama, Obama
***ANNCR: *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.
***JOHN MCCAIN: *I’m John McCain and I approve this message.
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