ELKHART, Indiana (CNN) – At an energy-themed townhall on Wednesday, Barack Obama called John McCain’s energy plan “ an early Christmas list for oil and gas lobbyists” and said McCain’s reputation of being a maverick – recently touted in one of his ads – no longer applies because of repeated position changes and falling in line with White House policies.
“I know that Senator McCain likes to call himself a maverick, and the fact is, there have been times where in the past he did show independence from his party,” said Obama. “But the price he paid for his party’s nomination has been to reverse himself on position after position, and now he embraces the failed Bush policies of the last eight years.”
“You can’t be a maverick when politically it’s working for you and then not a maverick when it doesn’t work for you, when you’re seeking your party’s nomination.”
After being mocked incessantly by the McCain campaign for a week for his suggestion to voters that one way to help save gas is to inflate their tires, Obama pounced McCain’s Monday comments when he said he didn’t disagree with encouraging drivers to inflate their tires, “but I also don't think that that's a way to become energy independent.”
“Last night, after all that, Senator McCain actually said he agreed that keeping our tires inflated was a good idea,” Obama said, to laughter from the crowd. “So in the coming days it’s going to be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain.”
A McCain spokesman responded that simply inflating car tires won’t save as much money on gas as drilling would, the starkest disagreement in the candidates’ two energy plans.
“True energy independence requires John McCain’s ‘all of the above’ approach which includes alternative energy, additional offshore oil drilling, and safe nuclear power,” wrote spokesman Tucker Bounds.
Evan Bayh, the native son widely considered to be a frontrunner to join Obama on the ticket, introduced the Illinois senator at the town hall. But besides Bayh’s presence, Obama gave no indication that he’s leaning towards picking the former Hillary Clinton supporter.