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Obama is with Bush on energy, McCain says

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Sara Chongson of Lima, with son Leo, was among those who had questions for Sen. John McCain during yesterday s visit.

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LIMA - John McCain yesterday said Barack Obama is the presidential candidate most aligned with President Bush, at least when it comes to energy policy.

Sen. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president rebuffed accusations that he is following in President Bush's footsteps energy policy. The Arizona senator instead said that while he was railing against the energy proposal supported by the Bush Administration and Congress, Sen. Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee for president, voted for it.

"I know he hasn't been in the Senate that long, but even in the real world, voting for something means you support it and voting against it means you don't," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told more than 200 supporters at the Lima Veterans memorial Civic & Convention Center yesterday afternoon.

During the hour-long town hall style meeting, Mr. McCain took more than a dozens questions. One supporter asked why Mr. McCain didn't aggressively beat back allegations of flip-flopping on his positions, while others asked about his views on the Iraq war, his plans for improving the quality of education, securing borders, and creating new jobs.

But the discussion between Mr. McCain and the audience time and again returned to the debate over the nation's energy policy.

Mr. McCain painted Mr. Obama as being out of touch on energy issues, mocking Mr. Obama's suggestion that motorists can save on gas by adding air to their tires - and adding a new chapter to the candidates' exchanges over tire pressure.

"That's not an energy policy, my friends, that's a public service announcement," Sen. McCain said.

Obama spokesman Isaac Baker responded to the claims by Mr. McCain, saying that Mr. McCain's votes on energy issues seldom vary from the Bush administration.

"The facts speak for themselves - John McCain voted with George Bush 95% of the time and has proposed $4 billion in additional tax giveaways to Big Oil," Mr. Baker said in a statement. "Sen. Obama has a serious plan to end our dependence on foreign oil by investing in a range of alternative energies that will boost Ohio's economy and create good-paying new jobs."

Mr. McCain told supporters he wants to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil by considering other options such as nuclear energy.

"If we eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, we won't care what the Saudis charge," he said.

The Republican nominee yesterday stopped in Lima as part of a two-day swing through the state.

Mr. McCain told supporters that he expects Ohio to be pivotal on election night.

Rick Hamilton, 35, of Lima, a salesman, enjoyed Mr. McCain's talk on energy policy, saying it shows that he isn't beholden to his party.

"He's not afraid to vote what he thinks is right, even if it goes against the party line," Mr. Hamilton said.

Contact Steve Eder at:

seder@theblade.com or

419-304-1680

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