Before a crowd of 1,600 in Elkhart, Indiana, at Concord High School, just now, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, added some more air in the tire-inflation debate again, saying:
"A few days ago somebody asked me what they could do personally to help America save energy. So I said something that some of you heard, which is all of us we could get better gas mileage and save oil in the process just by keeping our tires inflated. Turns out the experts agreed. Turns out that we can save 3-4% on our total oil consumption just by keeping our cars tuned up and inflating our tires."
Obama continued, per ABC News’ Sunlen Miller, saying, "McCain and the Republican National Committee, though, mocked the idea, and they went around sending tire gauges to reporters saying ‘Barack Obama’s energy plan’. Well, you know that sounded clever except last night, after all that, Senator McCain actually said that he agreed that keeping our tires inflated was a good idea. Which makes sense because it turns out NASCAR which knows something about tires apparently said the same thing, so did the Triple A. So in the coming days it’s going to be interesting to watch this debate between John McCain and John McCain."
This is a reference to McCain saying, during a tele-town hall last night, “could I mention that Senator Obama a couple of days ago said that we ought to all inflate our tires, and I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it, but I also don’t think that that’s a way to become energy independent." (Listen HERE )
This really isn’t very different from what McCain said on July 31 in Racine, Wisc., when he, his campaign, and the RNC began making an issue out of this tire inflation deal:
"Yesterday, he suggested we put air in our tires to save on gas. My friends, let’s do that, but do you think that’s enough to break our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? I don’t think so. So I believe that every energy source needs to be part of the solution." (Watch HERE )
But the disconnect is strange.
Why is the McCain campaign mocking an energy-savings measure McCain acknowledges is a smart one? The campaign insists they’re mocking the idea that this is Obama’s entire energy plan, which of course it isn’t.
My personal theory — and it’s just that, pure conjecture — is that we’re seeing the disconnect between McCain the senator who has shown in the past efforts to be intellectually honest and McCain the presidential candidate who wants to win, even if that means putting Paris Hilton in a TV ad.
So, my theory is that Obama’s right in that there’s a debate going on there — but he’s not correct in what it’s about. It’s not about whether tires should be inflated to bring in energy savings. It’s about what tactics the candidate is comfortable using.