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Hitting back

Justin Webb | 21:13 UK time, Monday, 4 August 2008

Finally Obama is hitting back - and changing tack - on energy policy.

The US presidential election of 2008 hinges not on choices of vice president or association with Paris Hilton: it hinges on the cost of gas/petrol (which may or may not be sky high in November) and the credibility of the candidates' plans to reduce it short-term AND long-term.

Obama scored well during the Hillary campaign by successfully arguing that the gas tax holiday was ridiculous but he is suddenly way off-side on drilling (majorities of Americans believe there should be offshore drilling though they seem to over-estimate the benefits) and has altered his position accordingly.

I argued months ago when McCain did the same dance that the change of view is unimportant compared with the challenge of presenting something credible in November. That is the case with Obama too - he can flip flop all over the place with relative impunity provided that he looks serious on gas when voting time comes. This is the danger for Obama.

Meanwhile I see that McCain is also withdrawing from freewheeling interaction with the more dangerous elements of the press. I haven't travelled with him for some time but he was always willing to chat to the BBC in the past - gosh, it will be disappointing if we are off that bus as well...


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