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Obama focuses on energy, raps McCain

From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
LANSING, MI -- Seeking to refocus the campaign on proposals and not pop stars, Obama discussed additional plans on energy that he says would bring jobs back to this state and wean the nation off its oil addiction, something McCain would only worsen.

Obama actually began his remarks by agreeing with his Republican opponent, whom he quoted as saying that the dependence on foreign oil "was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long term." But he quickly added that McCain has been part of Washington for most of the last three decades, and "did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"When Sen. McCain talks about the failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about our energy crisis, it's important to remember that he's been a part of that failure," he said. "And now, after years of inaction, and in the face of public frustration over rising gas prices, the only energy proposal he's really promoting is more offshore drilling -- a position he recently adopted that has become the centerpiece of his plan, and one that will not make a real dent in current gas prices."

Obama, who last week himself said he might consider offshore drilling, reiterated today that he doesn't think it is a "particularly meaningful short-term or long-term solution." But he said he's "willing to consider it if it's necessary to actually pass a comprehensive plan." Obama also called it "a political answer of the sort Washington has given us" for years, and referred several times to former oil man T. Boone Pickens.

"We can't simply pretend, as Sen, McCain does, that we can drill our way out of this problem," Obama said. "T. Boone Pickens is right. We need a much bolder and much bigger set of solutions."

Obama's proposals, he said, might sound "like pie in the sky," but claimed that if adopted, could lead to enough renewable energy "to replace all the oil we import from the Middle East" in 10 years.

"So there is a real choice in this election," he said. "Sen. McCain would not take the steps or achieve the goals that I outlined today... Like George Bush and Dick Cheney before him, he sees more drilling as the answer to all of our energy problems. And like George Bush and Dick Cheney, he's found a receptive audience in the very same oil companies that have blocked our progress for so long."

Referring to oil interests have donated to McCain's campaign, Obama said: "Make no mistake -- the oil companies have placed their bet on Sen. McCain. And if he wins, they will continue to cash in while our families and our economy suffer and our future is put in jeopardy."

Obama was greeted here with a standing ovation, and, as has been the case for the last few days, a chorus of, "Happy Birthday" from the audience.