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Obama Calls Gas Tax Holiday a "Shell Game"


From CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic:

INDIANAPOLIS -- With less than 72 hours until the polls open in the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, Barack Obama made a last minute pitch to voters urging them to look past the recent controversies which have overshadowed his candidacy.

He said he can win the election only if voters "decide that you've had enough of the way things are, if you decide that this election is bigger than flag pins and sniper fire and the comments of a former pastor, bigger than the differences between what we look like or where we come from or what party we belong to."

Obama continued to portray Hillary Clinton as the establishment candidate, arguing that he is the only candidate who represents change. Slamming Clinton's support for the gas tax holiday, he accused her of pandering to voters instead of offering a real solution to the energy problem.

"In a moment of candor, her advisers actually admitted that it wouldn't have much of an effect on gas prices. But, they said, it's a great political issue for Senator Clinton. So this is not about getting you through the summer, it's about getting elected," Obama argued. "This is what passes for leadership in Washington, phony ideas, calculated to win elections instead of actually solving problems."

Obama said that a Clinton has deployed a surrogate, who is also lobbyist for Shell Oil, to pitch the gas tax holiday to voters. "It's a shell game, literally," Obama said. Some economists have said that the gas tax holiday may increase profits for the oil companies, as demand may rise with the reduction in price. The campaign said Obama was referring to Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist for Shell Oil and a Clinton supporter.

The Clinton campaign accused Obama's camp of employing a lobbyist as well. "Considering that Senator Obama voted to suspend the gas tax three times when gas cost less than $2 a gallon and has an energy lobbyist chairing his Indiana campaign, it's hard to take his latest criticisms very seriously," said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer. "Senator Obama wants Americans to pay the gas tax, but Senator Clinton thinks the big oil companies should pay it this summer."

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