McCain credits Bush for drop in oil price |

McCain credits Bush for drop in oil price

Tom Raum
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. gestures during a campaign stop at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Wednesday, July 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. ” Republican John McCain on Wednesday credited the recent $10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil to President Bush’s lifting of a presidential ban on offshore drilling, an action he has been advocating in his presidential campaign.

The cost of oil and gasoline is “on everybody’s mind in this room,” McCain told a town-hall meeting.

He criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama for opposing drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Bush recently lifted the executive order banning offshore drilling that his father put in place in 1990. He also asked Congress to lift its own moratorium on oil exploration on the outer continental shelf which includes coastal waters as close as three miles from shore.

“The price of oil dropped $10 a barrel,” said McCain, who argued that the psychology of lifting the ban has affected world markets.

The White House didn’t go that far. Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said the price drop also could reflect diminished demand.

“I don’t know if we fully deserve the credit,” Perino said.

“We don’t predict what happens in the market,” she said. “We can’t really tell. Certainly, taking that action would send a signal that at least the executive branch is serious about moving forward and increasing the supply we have in America.”

There are 42 gallons in each barrel.

A barrel of light, sweet crude fell $1.86 to $126.56 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That’s down from more than $140 a barrel earlier in the summer.

McCain also said Obama’s Iraq policies amount to “unconditional withdrawal.” His criticism of his Democratic rival has heated up as Obama has drawn the lion’s share of attention over the past few days for his visit to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and other destinations.

McCain said Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops over a 16-month period “could lead to a resurgence in our enemies, and we would have to come back.”

Under a McCain presidency, the Arizona senator said, “we will never have to go back. We will have won this conflict.”

McCain campaigned in this key battleground state. Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry carried the state in 2000 and 2004 while losing nationally to Republican George W. Bush. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton easily bested Obama in winning the Pennsylvania primary in April.

McCain said that the cost of oil and gas was “an energy issue, an environmental issue and a national security issue.”

McCain also said that, if elected, he’d have a news conference once a week.

He also suggested that he would regularly submit himself to questioning before the House speaker and minority leader just as “the British prime minister goes before Parliament and answers some pretty interesting questions.”

“Why not,” asked McCain. “I think it would be fun.”

He was spending the day campaigning in Pennsylvania, and then heading to Louisiana.

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