- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

SANTA FE, N.M. — Sen. John Kerry yesterday said his own plan for renewable energy resources and decreasing dependence on foreign oil is not “pie in the sky,” as he accused President Bush of helping send gasoline prices to record highs.

“To borrow a saying, when it comes to George Bush’s record on gas prices, he can run, but he can’t hide,” Mr. Kerry said, appropriating a line from the president’s attacks on him during Friday’s second presidential debate.

The Democratic presidential nominee’s five-point plan for energy independence is one of the key parts of his economic recovery program, and something his advisers say resonates with voters. His stump-speech line about reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil is one of his most reliable applause lines, topped only by enthusiasm when he mentions his support for more stem-cell research.

Mr. Kerry is in Santa Fe preparing for the final presidential debate tomorrow night. But this location, with its proximity to the Los Alamos and Sandia research laboratories, gave him a chance to make his argument for pumping more money into research on alternative energy resources.

His plan would involve creating a fund to help research alternative sources of energy and provide incentives to encourage others to invest in alternatives, cut the federal government’s use of energy, offer incentives to research alternative energy and build up the U.S. energy grid.

The senator from Massachusetts, apparently forgetting his year and a half as a committee chairman in 2001 and 2002, and the party switch of Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont, which gave Democrats control of the Senate, claimed Republicans had controlled the House, Senate and White House for the past four years.

“George Bush and the Congress are now ending another session without passing a good energy bill,” he said. “At the end of the day, George Bush just couldn’t get it done, and we deserve a president who can.”

But Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said it was Mr. Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who could have delivered an energy bill. The House passed the final legislation negotiated between the House and Senate, but the Senate fell three votes shy of overcoming a filibuster on the bill.

Mr. Schmidt also said Mr. Kerry is being hypocritical on the issue of drilling for oil. Though he opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said on MSNBC’s “Hardball” program in February that Mr. Kerry told him a Kerry administration was “going to drill like never before” elsewhere.

“John Kerry will tell people whatever he thinks they want to hear, and his multiple positions are destroying his credibility with the American people,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Mr. Kerry said the Bush administration’s business ties are hurting consumers.

“Higher gas prices cost the American consumer $34 billion since George Bush took office — but guess who’s profiting from all this? That’s right, the people who wrote the Bush energy plan in the first place, the big oil companies,” he said.

He said the three top oil companies have made $38.6 billion in profits in those three years.

But he tried to distance himself from the same anti-business rhetoric he used earlier in the campaign when he talked about “Benedict Arnold CEOs.”

“I’m for people making money, and I’m for profits, but I’m not for gouging, and I’m not for legislatively mandated noncompetitive marketplaces,” he said.

As Mr. Kerry spoke, a steady drizzle fell outside the convention center, and several members of the audience said they gave Mr. Kerry credit for helping ease what has been a severe drought.

“We thank you for bringing the rain,” Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson said in introducing Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Kerry began by offering his prayers for the family of Christopher Reeve, the actor who died Sunday night and who Mr. Kerry said has been a longtime friend. Mr. Kerry said Saturday he had received a message from the paralyzed actor, after having mentioned his name in Friday’s second presidential debate while talking about stem cells.

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