A 30-second ad airing in Nevada and 10 other battleground states is the latest in a string of negative ads by Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
The commercial unveiled Wednesday seeks to disparage Democrat Barack Obama’s manifest popularity by comparing him to lightweight personalities from the paparazzi circuit. It also seeks to hit Obama on energy, as text on the screen states an Obama presidency would lead to "higher taxes" and "more foreign oil."
"Just because you’re a celebrity doesn’t mean you’re ready to lead," campaign manager Rick Davis told reporters in a conference call about the ad.
This is the second McCain ad that tries to turn Obama’s popularity on its head. A previous ad asked "Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?" as a rising crescendo, from an Obama campaign event, chants: "Obama, Obama, Obama!"
Obama has opposed lifting a moratorium that blocks energy development in 80 percent of the country’s coastal waters. He proposes that oil companies be required to use existing drilling leases or pay a fee. McCain supported the moratorium in the past, but last month called for lifting it. Both Obama and McCain oppose oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The McCain campaign says the ad’s claim that Obama would raise taxes on electricity is based on an interview Obama gave the San Antonio Express-News in February. He was asked whether he would help finance education by taxing some new energy sources, such as wind.
"Well, that’s clean energy, and we want to drive down the cost of that, not raise it," Obama replied. "We need to give them subsidies so they can start developing that. What we ought to tax is dirty energy, like coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas."
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said the reference to taxing "dirty energy" reflects Obama’s support for a cap-and-trade system to combat global warming, though Obama has never directly suggested such a plan would be a tax.
In fact, both McCain and Obama support the same kind of cap-and-trade curbs for carbon-fuel emissions. Industries would be given emission targets; those who come in under their limit could sell their surplus polluting capacity to companies unable to meet their target. Critics claim that’s tantamount to a tax on coal-powered industries.
Obama also wants to end oil and gas industry tax breaks and proposes a windfall profits tax on the large oil companies.CAMPAIGN DOLLARS INCLINE VILLAGE — A fundraiser at Lake Tahoe attended by Republican presidential candidate John McCain netted about $500,000, organizers said. More than 100 people attended the private event Tuesday afternoon at the Incline Village home of Jan and Bob Davidson, a pioneering couple in the children’s computer software industry. Earlier Tuesday, about 1,250 people attended McCain’s town hall meeting in Sparks. At Tahoe, McCain first attended a private reception for supporters who paid $33,100 each for VIP tickets. The Arizona senator then spoke to a larger crowd who paid $1,000 for lunch or $2,300 for lunch and a photo with him. The Associated Press