Clinton Wants Congress on the Record Over Gas Tax

(CBS)

From CBS News' Fernando Suarez:

JEFFERSONVILLE, IND. -- In her harshest comments directed to oil companies to date, Clinton said she thinks the federal government should "go after the oil companies."

"I have advocated for a federal gas-tax holiday paid for by imposing an excess profits tax on the oil companies. Let the oil companies pay the federal gas tax for the next months!" said Clinton to thunderous applause.

She also said she wanted to poll Congress to see where they stand on the gas-tax holiday. "Do they stand with hard pressed Americans who are trying to pay their gas bills at the gas stations, or do they, once again, stand with the oil companies?" she asked. "I want them to tell us, are they with us or against us when it comes to taking on the oil companies."

Clinton has faced harsh criticism from economists and politicians since supporting the gas-tax holiday, a plan that would suspend the federal tax on gas from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Critics say the fuel relief plan will do little to help Americans save any money, since the federal gas tax is 18 cents a gallon. Clinton argues that truck drivers and the trucking industry will benefit the most from the savings, which in turn will lower the cost of food and other good affected by the record high price of fuel.

She also got some support from an unlikely corner today – a member of the Kennedy family, most of whom have endorsed her opponent. During a campaign rally here, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said his family made the wrong choice in backing Barack Obama. "Let me tell you why they are wrong and I am right, because I know Hillary Clinton better than they know Barack Obama," said Kennedy. "You may know that there are some members in my family who decided to do the wrong thing and support Barack Obama. Our family is divided and our party is divided and the reason we are divided is because we have two extraordinary candidates both running for president, and both will make unbelievable presidents for this country."

Back in late January, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., the brother of the late Robert F. Kennedy, decided to back Obama, a move that shocked many inside the Clinton campaign. Soon, other Kennedys followed, including RFK's niece Caroline, his mother Ethel and Edward's son Patrick.

Kennedy, who was introducing Clinton, went on to say that he can sympathize with Clinton because his father, Robert F. Kennedy, was also treated harshly by the Republican Party. "She had to endure the same attacks my father had to endure, which was to be called a 'carpetbagger' when she came into New York," he said. "This party has gotten a good look at Hillary Clinton and they know that all those negatives that have been grilled into them by the right wing Republicans are not true," said Kennedy, as Clinton stood by watching and nodding her head.