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Candidates Stump in Battleground Western States

Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain took shots at each other over energy policy as they each toured Western states, hoping to drive home their message in what could be new battlegrounds this campaign season.

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    Barack Obama and John McCain resumed their debate today over how best to address the rising cost of fuel.

    McCain held a town hall in Fresno, Calif., where he proposed giving car buyers a tax credit on alternative fuel, hybrid and electric vehicles, and a prize to the inventor who develops a better car battery.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Ariz.: For every automaker who can sell a zero-emissions car, we will commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys that car.

    For other vehicles, whatever type they may be, the lower the carbon emissions, the higher the tax credit.

    And these large tax credits will be available to everybody, not just to those who have an accountant to explain it to them.

    I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost, and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.

    That's $1 for every man, woman and child in the U.S., a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency, and should deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs.


    One questioner asked McCain if he thought speculation by energy traders was to blame for higher fuel costs.


    And there's no doubt that the amount of speculation has gone up dramatically. The question is, is how much effect has that had on the price of a barrel of oil? And I don't know the answer to that.

    I don't think, from talking to wise people all over this country, that it is 50 percent or 30 percent, but if it's 1 percent, then people — if it's artificially driving up the cost of a barrel of oil and a gallon of gas at the gas station, then it seems to me there should be a thorough and complete investigation.