Adwatch: McCain ad blames Obama for gas price hike

July 21, 2008 7:15:46 PM PDT
TITLE: "Pump."

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: National cable and Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia and Wisconsin.

SCRIPT: Announcer: "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?"

Crowd chanting: "Obama, Obama, Obama!"

Announcer: "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."

McCain: "I'm John McCain and I approve this message."

KEY IMAGES: A lonely gas pump with heat waves rising around it. A pump's price readout rolls over to $5. At first indiscernible, background chanting grows louder. A smiling Obama appears on the screen with a pump rising over his right shoulder. It is now clear that the chants are a pro-Obama crowd: "Obama, Obama, Obama!" The screen goes dark. A clip appears of McCain speaking to a crowd, replaced by a still shot of McCain against a blue backdrop.

ANALYSIS: This ad is the latest tit-for-tat commercial over energy in the presidential campaign. Earlier this month, an Obama ad accused McCain of being "part of the problem" of high gas prices. This one flat out blames Obama.

The main premise of McCain's ad ? that opposition to drilling is responsible for high gas prices ? is an assertion that has been disputed even by McCain allies. There is a strong case that proponents make for additional drilling, but few will argue that it would alleviate this summer's prices at the pump.

President Bush this month called on Congress to lift a moratorium that has blocked energy development over 80 percent of the country's coastal waters and to allow drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge. But Bush has said that these steps "will take years to have their full impact" on energy costs. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a McCain backer, opposes lifting the ban on new oil drilling on the continental shelf and has said the moratorium is not responsible for rising prices.

Randall Luthi, who heads the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service that operates the federal offshore energy leasing program, told The Associated Press this month that even if leases became available now, "It will be 5 to 10 years or longer for actual production."

It is true that Obama opposes lifting the moratorium on offshore oil drilling and has opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a step Bush and many Republicans support.

The ad is silent on McCain's own record. McCain, too, opposes drilling in the Alaska refuge and during his 2000 presidential run opposed lifting the offshore drilling moratorium as well.

But gas prices are proving to be a combustible political issue.

A poll by the Pew Research Center in late June showed that nearly one of every two Americans now rate energy exploration, drilling and building new power plants as the top priority ? all of them stands embraced by McCain. Only 35 percent gave those steps top priority five months ago.

At the same time, nine in 10 people in a USA Today-Gallup Poll last month said energy, including gas prices, would be very or extremely important in deciding their presidential vote in November. Those surveyed considered Obama better than McCain on energy issues by 19 percentage points.

Since last month, McCain and the Republican Party have run three ads promoting McCain on energy; two of them criticize Obama.

In a response to the ad, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said: "Barack Obama has fought for energy independence in the Senate and has a plan to invest $150 billion in renewable sources of energy that will create five million new jobs and provide struggling families with an immediate energy rebate and a $1,000 middle-class tax cut."


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