Fact Check: Obama's latest campaign ad

April 3, 2008 7:02:19 PM PDT
One of the issues in this campaign is the need for a national energy policy that weans us of foreign oil. Sen. Barrack Obama insists he doesn't take money from the oil companies, but that's a bit misleading.

The ad is getting a lot of play in Pennsylvania, where voters will cast their primary ballots in a little less than three weeks. The ad is called "Nothing's changed."

"Since the gas lines of the ' 70s, Democrats and Republicans have talked about energy independence, but nothing's changed," Barrack Obama said in the ad.

Sen. Barrack Obama points out Exxon is making $40 billion a year and gas prices are $3.50 a gallon. Both are true.

"I don't take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists and I won't let them block change anymore," says the ad.

Fact Check: It's true Obama doesn't take money directly from oil companies because he can't. Corporations are prohibited from contributing directly to federal candidates and have been since 1907.

He has however accepted more than $213,000 dollars from individuals who work for oil and gas companies.

Hillary Clinton has received even more $306,000 according to the Center for Responsive Politics which tracks contributions.

Employees of Exxon Mobil which Obama names in his ad, gave $30,000 to the Illinois senator. They gave Hillary Clinton just under $21,000.

In his ad Obama promises big oil will pay a penalty on windfall profits.

"We'll invest in alternative energy, create jobs and free ourselves from foreign oil," said the ad.

On Youtube I found this statement from Hillary Clinton that sounds very much the same.

"I want to take those profits and put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy, alternatives and technology that will begin to actually move us in the direction of independence," said Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Dan Kammen an energy expert with the U.C. Goldman School of Public Policy likes the idea.

"I think the U.S. oil industry made about $123 billion dollars in profits last year so there's lots of money to go around," said Kammen.

Severin Borenstein, director of the U.C. Energy Institute, doesn't like it.

"The idea that we should sort of say, 'We have this big energy problem. It's your fault, we're going to put you in charge of fixing the problem,' is really a misguided approach to the problem we face," said Borenstein.

But our Political Analyst Bruce Cain says calls it smart politics.

"In the short run it is a great move because we've seen in the democratic primary the populist appeals started by John Edwards and picked up now by both Hillary and Barack Obama do work," says Cain.

Professor Cain says it's particularly effective in Pennsylvania where a slumping economy has really hurt working class voters and blaming corporations is a popular point of view.

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