Off-the-Cuff but On The Record

Sunday, on ABC's "This Week," John McCain was asked about an unscripted (but videotaped) comment Sarah Palin made while shaking hands with supporters. He said the comment, in which Palin seemed to support Barack Obama's position towards bombing terrorist targets in Pakistan, shouldn't be taken too seriously:

All this business of, in all due respect, people going around, sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and all of a sudden, that's a person's position, it's a free country, but I don't think most Americans think that's a definitive policy statement.

Of course, that hasn't stopped the McCain campaign of making political hay over a similar, unscripted rope line comment from Joe Biden. The Democratic vice presidential hopeful told an environmentalist in Maumee, Ohio earlier this month that he wasn't supporting "clean coal," even though the Obama campaign is on record in favor of clean coal.

Here's the latest attack ad from McCain — this one is tailored to run in Colorado, but there are also versions of the ad running in other coal-rich battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

As we noted last week, the Obama campaign does support investment in clean coal technology, as part of its ten-year, $150 billion dollar initiative to develop clean energy of all kinds. (McCain proposes $2 billion per year in federal subsidies for clean coal, plus more limited funding for "basic research" on wind, tide, and solar energy.) "The Obama-Biden Department of Energy is committed to developing five 'first-of-a-kind' commercial scale coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration here in the United States," says Biden spokesman David Wade.

Coal generates a lot of political heat because it supplies more than half the nation's electricity and is a significant contributor of greenhouse gases — and because five of the leading coal-producing states (Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Ohio) are battlegrounds in the November election.



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