Today in Indianapolis, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., went after Elmo.
"Some of you may have seen that Sen. Clinton is spending a lot of money on a TV ad that attacks me for not supporting her and John McCain’s idea of a gas tax holiday," Obama said. "Now keep in mind this is an idea that will save you altogether half a tank of gas, 30 cents a day. For three months. That’s if the oil companies don’t simply jack up their price, to fill the gap, as they’ve done when this was tried before."
Then, Obama took a turn not in his prepared remarks.
"Does anyone here really trust the oil companies to give you the savings, when they could just pocket the money themselves? There’s not an expert out there that believes that this is going to work. There’s not an editorial out there that has said this is actually the answer to high gas prices. In fact, my understanding is, today, Sen. Clinton had to send out a surrogate to speak on behalf of this plan, and all she could find was, get this, a lobbyist for Shell Oil to explain how this is going to be good for consumers. It’s a shell game, literally."
Obama was referring to an appearance on CNN, Wednesday, when Elmendorf — introduced as a Democratic strategist who supports Clinton — said, “I think Sen. Clinton has a good proposal to give people a gas tax holiday, and we really ought to do something. Congress can do a lot of different things with the money they’re getting. I just think we ought to focus on consumers and what we can do to help them right now in this economic emergency this summer."
Elmendorf was once top aide to then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. The Obama campaign says Elmendorf lobbies for Shell Oil on behalf of the firm Bryan Cave, as well as Elmendorf Strategies.
Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer responds that it’s "rather ironic for Obama to make that hit, considering that Kipper Tew, a lobbyist for the energy industry, is the state chair of his Indiana campaign."
(UPDATE: Tew has been identified in media accounts as an Obama state co-chair, but the Obama campaign says he isn’t the state chair but rather a member of a leadership committee along with dozens others.)
Singer also says that Clinton’s plan would attempt to replace the money the gas tax raises for bridge and road repair, with millions from a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies. "Why would Shell Oil support a windfall profits tax?" Singer asks. "They’d lose money. The logic is off."
It’s also worth noting that Obama’s informal advisers include Broderick Johnson, head of Bryan Cave’s Washington, D.C., lobbying operations, per USA Today.