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McCain gas tax holiday a ‘scheme,’ Obama says

Chicago Tribune

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Saturday called a proposal by Sen. John McCain for a federal gas tax holiday the “latest scheme” from the Republican presidential nominee-to-be.

Obama suggested that such a holiday from federal gas taxes would weaken the nation’s highway and bridge infrastructure, potentially putting lives at risk.

“It will save you about $25,” Obama said, presumably citing a three-month saving for average consumers. “Remember that bridge in Minneapolis?”

The charge against McCain came minutes after Obama said he was striving to stay above the fray.

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“One of the things that we’ve got to do is to bring this country together and stop being distracted by, you know, back-and-forth, tit-for-tat bickering,” he said. “I have been trying to resist this in this campaign and I will continue to resist it when I am president of the United States.”

The McCain campaign did not see it that way.

“I’m sure he didn’t call gas tax relief a ‘scheme’ when he voted for it in the Illinois Senate,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement. “Barack Obama is now more interested in ambitions than solutions.”

In 2000, Obama supported a temporary sales tax holiday in Illinois while a state lawmaker, but opposed a permanent elimination of the tax, saying benefits were not being passed on to consumers.

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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s Democratic challenger, has said she would consider a gas tax holiday, if revenue lost to the federal highway fund could be recovered elsewhere.

Campaigning in South Bend, Clinton called for a “good old-fashioned Lincoln-Douglas debate” with Obama in Indiana before the May 6 primary there.

Clinton told several thousand supporters at a minor league baseball stadium that the two should debate for 90 minutes, one-on-one, with no moderators. Clinton and Obama have debated each other without other candidates four times.

“That would be good for the Democratic Party, it would be good for democracy and it would be great for Indiana,” the former first lady said.

Obama said Saturday he has no interest in another debate so soon.

“We’re not going to have debates between now and Indiana,” he said during a taping of “Fox News Sunday.”


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