April 28, 2008
(AP) Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Barack Obama on Monday for opposing proposals to suspend federal gas taxes this summer, a plan she and Republican John McCain have endorsed.
Obama didn't take the bait. He ignored Clinton and focused on McCain.
"My opponent, Senator Obama, opposes giving consumers a break," Clinton said at a firehouse. "I understand the American people need some relief," she added, implying that Obama doesn't get it.
He has said motorists would not benefit significantly from suspending the gas tax.
"This is his solution to the problems of the energy crisis and your tax bills," Obama told several thousand at a noisy rally in Wilmington. "Keep in mind that the federal gas tax is about 5 percent of your gas bill. If it lasts for three months, you're going to save about $25 or $30, or a half a tank of gas."
The idea to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day was first proposed by McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, as a way to lessen the pain at the pump for consumers this summer.
Clinton said she would make up the lost revenue by imposing a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies.
"If we suspended it and made up the lost revenues, that's the best of both worlds," she said.
Both Democrats canvassed the state Monday, pushing supporters to go to the polls early here and in Indiana before both states hold primaries on May 6. Obama is favored in North Carolina while the two are competing closely in Indiana.
"That's his big solution," Obama said of McCain. "He had the gall yesterday to tell me that because I don't agree with his plan, I must not be sympathetic to poor people. This is at the same time as he is proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for corporate interests, for the wealthiest Americans."
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds noted Obama's support for suspending gas taxes when he served in the Illinois Senate.
"Senator Obama's arguments against John McCain's gas tax holiday are complete fiction," Bounds said.
Leading in convention delegates and popular votes, Obama sought to avoid the daily back and forth with Clinton.
"I didn't get into this race to run against Senator Clinton, I ran to run against unemployment," Obama said.
He said McCain's approach to the issue of high gas prices was typical of how Washington works.
"There's a problem, everybody's upset about gas prices. Let's fund some short-term, quick-fix so we can say we did something, even though we didn't do anything," Obama said. He argued that reducing consumption and increasing the use of alternative fuels represent real long-term solutions to rising gasoline and diesel fuel prices.