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McCaskill: Easley, Bill against gas tax cut

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
In yet another example of the Obama campaign pushing back hard on the gas tax holiday issue, Obama supporter Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) hosted a conference call to highlight past opposition to such a holiday from Clinton supporters, including North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley and her own husband.

McCaskill, who is campaigning in North Carolina today, quoted Easley
who two years ago called a cut in the gas tax a "subsidy for oil
companies" and added that less than two weeks ago he said, "people need
to be told the truth about it," because such a holiday would not
necessarily result in savings.

The campaign sent out an audio link to the governor's more recent
comments. She also said the former president Clinton also agreed with
Obama at one point in time about how short-sighted a gas tax holiday
would be and said it was noteworthy that the Clinton campaign had not
been able to produce experts who backed her proposal, arguing that when
promoting an economic policy it was important to have at least someone
who knows about economics agree with you, unless you never planned for
your proposal to pass and were simply trying to get votes.

Kitchen-table issues like high gas prices have increasingly been the
focus for both candidates as they try to win over voters who are
struggling economically.

Obama has hit his rivals consistently over the past several days for supporting the tax holiday and his campaign sent out a memo on the matter during the conference call, a bid to drive home its argument that the senator is not "out of touch" with voters for refusing to back a plan that would save them little, is not supported by experts and was unlikely to pass before summer.

The Missouri senator said the race on the ground in the Tar Heel state felt "very good" even as polls showed Clinton edging up, narrowing Obama's lead. McCaskill said such narrowing was to be expected, comparing it to Obama having closed the gap in Pennsylvania to 10 points from 20. She said the Clinton campaign had put a lot of effort into campaigning in the state and that Bill Clinton had "camped out" there.

She argued repeatedly that North Carolinians were offended by the gas tax holiday proposal that she and the Illinois senator have painted as a gimmick to buy their votes.

NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli passes along that Clinton spokesman Doug Hattaway reacted to the call this way: "The Obama campaign seems bitter about sliding in the polls and is clinging to these negative attacks out of frustration."