The strategy of going after Sen. Hillary Clinton on her proposal to suspend the gas tax proved useful for Sen. Barack Obama, as he weakened his Democratic Primary rival’s standing in Indiana while deriding as gimmickry her call for a gas tax suspension.
With Clinton out of the way now, Obama’s most seniororiginal ally in New Jersey, U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9), denouncedpresumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's position on the gas tax, which mirrors Clinton’s.
On stage Friday at a town hall meeting in Pemberton,McCain summoned applause from the crowd for Clinton, noting how she ran a good race.
Meanwhile, in a conference call with reporters, Rothmantargeted the Arizonanon what had been an important primary issue.
In the face of rising gas prices – nearing $4 per gallon in New Jersey – McCain proposed suspending the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax through Labor Day, and this week renewed his call for the relief action.
Responding to a Wednesday quote in which the Republican referred to projects funded by the gas tax as "unnecessary and unwanted," Rothman said, "Sen. McCain should explain to the people of New Jersey how the $190 million in funding for local road and bridge projects that would be lost to pay for his Washington gimmick isn't necessary, and the 6,600 good jobs created by that funding aren't wanted."
The attack bythe North Jersey congressmanwas the back end of a two-man offensive on McCain that began yesterday when Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) targeted the Republican on illegal immigration. Menendez argued that McCain’s back track from his stance on comprehensive immigration reform to a border fence-first position epitomized flip-flopping and insulted Latinos.
Today at Burlington County Community College in Pemberton, McCain fielded a question on illegal immigration and replied that while he favors comprehensive immigration, he first wants to "secure the border."
Simultaneously, Rothman (D-9) assumed the point position, with his longstanding role in the Obama camp enabling him to criticize McCain on an issue that Rothman’s presidential candidate had already used to try to make Clinton look like a panderer.