Sunday Political Outlook


As rhetoric over foreign policy, electability and a gas tax holiday intensifies less than 48 hours before another defining moment in the epic 2008 election, the Democratic presidential contenders stepped off the trial Sunday in Indiana for separate Sunday show interviews on dueling television networks.

On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was asked repeated to name an economist who supports her plan to suspend the 18.4 cent federal gas tax. Either she could not or chose not to. "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists," she said, presenting her tax hike plan as a way to life the burden of soaring gas prices off middle class Americans.

Rival Barack Obama has called the plan, which is also backed by Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, Sen. John McCain , "a pander" that won't solve the high cost of gas. Asked about the gas plan in his interview with Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press", Sen. Obama, D-Ill., framed the proposal as a "classic Washington gimmick." "You're looking at suspending a gas tax for three months. The average driver would save 30 cents per day for a grand total of $28," claimed Obama.

Although Clinton did not offer her own estimate as to how much relief the holiday would provide, she did try to distinguish her plan from McCain's. "Senator McCain has said take off the gas tax, don't pay for it, throw us further into deficit and debt. That is not what I've proposed. What I've proposed is that the oil companies pay the gas tax instead of consumers and drivers this summer."


Obama's most aggressive shot at Clinton came when asked for comment about her recent remarks that she would "obliterate" Iran if they launched a nuclear attack on Israel. "It's not the language that we need right now, and I think it's language that's reflective of George Bush," said Obama.

Later in the interview, Obama suggested Clinton was playing politics with the Iran topic. "Senator Clinton during the course of the campaign has said we shouldn't speculate about Iran, we've got to be cautious when we're running for president, she scolded me on a couple of occasions on this issue, yet a few days before an election, she's willing to use that language." Moments later, on "This Week" Stephanopoulos told Clinton what Obama said on "Meet" and asked if she had any regret about her comment.

"Why would I have any regrets? I'm asked a question about what I would do if Iran attacked our ally, a country that many of us have a great deal of, you know, connection with and feeling for, for all kinds of reasons. And, yes, we would have massive retaliation against Iran," the former first lady said.

The first half hour of Obama's interview was filled with questions about his controversial former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose reemergence this week knocked the Obama campaign of its message. The senator shared that he was troubled that Wright, appearing at the National Press Club, repeated many of his high publicized incendiary comments. "That indicated to me that he did not share my fundamental belief and my fundamental values in terms of bringing the country together, moving forward and the pride that I've got for this country," said Obama.

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