During a Friday morning speech at the Iowa State Fair, Republican presidential candidate John McCain again ridiculed rival Barack Obama’s suggestion that Americans can improve their gas mileage by properly inflating their tires.
"My opponent doesn’t want nuclear power. He doesn’t want us to drill offshore and the other day he mentioned that what we need to do is inflate our tires," McCain said. "My friends, I’m all in favor of inflating our tires — don’t get me wrong, but that’s a public service announcement. It’s not an energy policy."
McCain told fairgoers the "lowest income Americans" are suffering most from high gas prices because they’re driving the oldest automobiles. "We must achieve energy independence. I have a plan to do so," McCain said. "…It’s all of the above. It’s got to be wind, tide, solar, nuclear."
During an interview with Radio Iowa about two hours later, McCain expanded his criticism of Obama for suggesting Americans could save as much gas by properly inflating their tires as would be gained by drilling in new locations along America’s ocean coastline.
"Look, on the tire gauge — Senator Obama said that the tire gauge would then replace offshore drilling. That’s simply ludicrous. That’s just not plausible," McCain said. "We need to offshore drill. We need to inflate our tires. We need to have nuclear, tide, solar, ethanol, renewable fuels, clean coal technology. We need to do all of those things."
Jenni Lee, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, issued a statement late this afternoon in response, suggesting McCain’s energy policy was full of "ineffective gimmicks for the American people and big tax breaks for the oil companies."
McCain made sure to mention his opposition to federal subsidies for ethanol at the very end of his State Fair speech. During his conversation with Radio Iowa McCain said he always wants to make that clear to Iowa audiences.
"While I was talking, I said (to myself) ‘I have not told these people again that I oppose subsidies’ because I don’t want them to walk away and have somebody say, ‘Yea, he’s against ethanol subsidies but he wouldn’t tell you about it.’ That’s just the way I am," McCain said. "But I also tried to emphasize that ethanol and renewables is going to be a part of the solution. E-85 will be a solution to our energy dependence problems."
McCain called himself the "underdog" everywhere, including Iowa, but McCain said he believes a carefully focused message will help him win the election.