(CNN) - The standoff over a summer gas tax holiday continued Friday, as Hillary Clinton and John McCain’s campaign said Barack Obama did not understand the pain ordinary Americans were suffering at the pump, and the Illinois senator accused both his rivals of political pandering on the issue.
“…[O]n this issue, Hillary Clinton and John McCain are reading from the same political playbook,” Obama said at an Indiana campaign stop.
“This isn't a real solution. It's a political stunt. This is what Washington does whenever there's a big problem. Politicians pretend that they're looking out for you, but they're just looking out for their poll numbers.” He also referred to recent comments by Clinton campaign adviser Geoff Garin, saying “they put her campaign pollster on the phone to talk about how the [tax holiday] idea polls well.”
In response, the McCain campaign said again that Obama had supported the idea as an Illinois state senator – and that his current opposition showed he was out of touch with the current crisis.
“Barack Obama is trying to explain why he thinks Americans should pay more at the pump rather than less, and voters are wondering why he believes that gas tax relief was good for Illinois but bad for America,” said spokesman Tucker Bounds. “Barack Obama has offered no plan for summertime gas prices, and he appears not to understand why working people are hurting and need immediate action.”
And Hillary Clinton told a North Carolina crowd that both her opponents were off-base on the issue. “Senator Obama doesn’t want us to take down the gas tax this summer and Senator McCain wants us to, but he doesn’t want to pay for it,” said Clinton. “I believe we should impose an excess profits tax on the oil companies. They have record profits that they frankly are just sitting there counting because they are not doing anything new to earn it; they are just taking advantage of what is going on.
“We ought to say: Wait a minute, we’d rather have the oil companies pay the gas tax than the drivers of North Carolina, especially the truck drivers, or the farmers, or other people who have to commute long distances.”
Earlier Friday, Obama’s campaign released a new ad which criticized Clinton’s gas tax holiday plan.