Sen. Barack Obama’s criticism of political action committees and lobbyists continued Saturday afternoon in Waverly as the Democratic presidential candidate blamed them for Washington “dragging its feet” on national energy advancement.
Obama told the 300 spectators gathered in a Waverly Light and Power building that the country faces an “urgent moral challenge” to reduce oil demand, and that politicians must put national interests before special interests for change to ensue.
“Americans can’t come and sit at the table because oil and gas companies have bought every chair,” Obama said, criticizing the Bush administration’s handing of the energy task force. “We can lead the world to combat global climate change in the market but first we have to challenge the business in Washington.”
Obama said Vice President Dick Cheney, who led the task force, met 40 times with oil industry leaders and once with renewable energy experts. “America’s energy policy doesn’t just seem like it was written by a lobbyist, it was written by a lobbyist,” he said.
The Illinois senator then outlined his plan for energy, which includes cutting U.S. oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. As president, he also would also create a law mandating that at least 20 percent of energy came from renewable fuels, he said.
Following his formal remarks, Obama fielded several questions about his universal health care plan, education goals, and the war in Iraq.
He encouraged the crowd to pressure their congressmen to override President Bush’s veto on the war-spending bill that calls for the start of a withdrawal of American troops now.
“Because of our decision to go in Iraq — which I consider the biggest mistake in foreign policy in a generation — we took our eye off the ball of what was happening in Afghanistan,” Obama said, when asked to discuss statements he made about his willingness to attack extremist militants inside Pakistan.
Though Democratic opponents have targeted his remarks as evidence of inexperience in foreign policy, Obama told the Waverly crowd his openness should be viewed positively.
Dottie Roiseland, a Waverly resident and registered Republican, said she liked Obama’s “strong and immediate” stance on the war and favored it more than the policy of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whom she planned to caucus for.
Dennis Dickman, a retired Waverly pastor, said seeing Obama speak sealed the candidate as his choice for the caucuses.
“I feel that there are obvious concerns about his lack of experience, but he knows what the important issues are and he’s coming down in the right place,” Dickman said.