Pawlenty Criticizes Obama on Energy Policy
By Bill Salisbury, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
Aug. 6–On the eve of Barack Obama’s fundraising stop in Minneapolis today, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty criticized the Democratic presidential candidate for failing to understand the severity of the nation’s energy crisis and only recently proposing relief for soaring gasoline prices.
“I believe that Senator Obama has misunderstood and underappreciated this crisis,” Pawlenty, national co-chairman of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign, told reporters during a conference call Tuesday. “It’s going to need to be dealt with boldly and aggressively.”
On Monday, Obama announced he would reverse his past position and back tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to quickly reduce gas prices at the pump. Last week, he said for the first time that he would agree to some offshore oil drilling as part of a comprehensive energy policy compromise with Republicans.
“He’s obviously thrashing about, trying to … catch up to the idea of the week,” Pawlenty said. “We’re glad that he has migrated more and more to Senator McCain’s position and vision for a better energy future for the country. But it’s obviously belated, it’s obviously haphazard and it’s also obvious he’s been saying ‘no’ until recently when he started this series of changes in positions.”
Said to be on McCain’s short list of possible running mates, Pawlenty may have been trying out for the vice presidential candidate’s traditional role as attack dog on the opposition’s standard bearer. If so,
he was a very polite critter, first welcoming Obama back to Minnesota and then gently dissecting the Illinois senator’s energy policies instead of fiercely pouncing on them.
He noted that McCain proposed a comprehensive national energy strategy months ago, and he chided Obama for opposing the Arizona senator’s plans for a “gas tax holiday” this summer and building new nuclear energy reactors and for now supporting offshore drilling under limited conditions.
“I question whether it would ever occur under a Nancy Pelosi-Barack Obama combination, if he were to become president,” Pawlenty said. House Speaker Pelosi last week blocked a vote on offshore drilling before Congress adjourned for its August recess.
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