In a new TV advert that has been unveiled, Barack Obama (photo), the US Democratic candidate to the White House, accuses John McCain, his Republican rival, of being under the sway of big oil firms. When the ad came, Mr Obama called for US emergency oil reserves to be used to help drive down fuel prices.
“After one president in the pocket of big oil, we can’t afford another”, says a narrator in the ad showing Mr McCain with president George W. Bush.
The advert was misleading, said a spokesman for Republican Senator McCain.
“Big oil’s filling John McCain’s campaign with $2m in contributions”, says the advert’s narrator.
Barack Obama’s plan to use a windfall profits tax on big oil companies in order to give American families a $1,000 tax rebate is also promoted in the ad, at a time when many are struggling with high energy prices.
But the advert failed to mention that Mr Obama had voted in favour of a 2005 bill giving tax breaks to energy producers, said in a statement Tucker Bounds, Mr McCain campaign spokesman. The bill was supported by president Bush, and John McCain voted against it.
“Barack Obama’s latest negative attack ad shows his celebrity is matched only by his hypocrisy”, Mr Bounds said.
“Also not mentioned is the $400,000 from big oil contributors that Barack Obama has already pocketed in this election.”
The US Democratic candidate proposed to sell 70 million barrels from the reserve, which according to him could help in the short-term to drive down the price of petrol at the pump.
Compared to the energy policy Barack Obama proposed in June, in which he advocated keeping the reserve intact in case of emergency, his call to release oil from the US strategic reserves represents a change
Mr Obama has reconsidered, said Heather Zichal, a campaign spokeswoman. She added that “he recognises that Americans are suffering”.
In Lansing, Michigan, during a speech, the Illinois senator said : “Breaking our oil addiction is one of the greatest challenges our generation will ever face.”
“It will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy.”
He proposed releasing light crude oil from the stockpile, which is easier to turn into fuel for vehicles and other petroleum products, in order to be replaced at a later date with heavy crude oil.
Tapping the reserve has been opposed by the Bush administration, who said that it should be kept for dire emergencies. After supplies to refineries were disrupted, some 10 million barrels were released in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Two days before Barack Obama’s comments, the Democratic candidate-in-waiting confirmed he was broadly supportive of a plan for energy independence, that includes limited offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Also changing his policy, John McCain (photo, from brazilianvoice.com) recently reversed his previous opposition to offshore oil drilling. He proposed an energy plan that includes affordable nuclear energy and tax relief on gas production.
Last week, ahead of Monday’s attack ad from the Obama campaign, a series of spats took place between the two presumptive White House candidates.
In one of the McCain campaign advert, titled Celeb, Mr Obama is called “biggest celebrity in the world”, and his economic policies and readiness to lead the US are questioned.
The Obama campaign response was an ad in which Mr McCain was accused of practising the “policies of the past”, using images of him with President George W Bush.
Last week, Mr McCain’s campaign also said that, by implying that his Republican rival was racist, Mr Obama had “played the race card”. And Mr McCain was accused by Mr Obama of bringing up the issue of race.