Team McCain conference call: Eric Cantor on energy

Team McCain had a new surrogate talking energy policy today: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).

Cantor said that Obama would unveil an energy plan without any new energy supply.  Anyone proposing such a plan is either inexperienced or dishonest.  One cannot plan for the nation’s energy future without ensuring supply.  As an example, Cantor said that his waffling on drilling demonstrates this lack of openness.  If he really meant what he said, he should be pressing Nancy Pelosi for an open debate and a floor vote on drilling in the OCS.

Doug Holtz-Eakin points out that John McCain has an energy policy that looks for a broad range of new, massive supply.  Domestic oil, clean coal, nuclear power are all proven technologies, and McCain supports development of alternatives as well.

Questions:

  • AP: Congrats on being on the VP shortlist.  Care to comment on conversations for that role?  No, I’m focusing on energy.
  • USA Today: Democrats talk about the 68 million acres of leases and Use it Or Lose It: McCain supports that — because it’s already the law!  The leases already return to the government if not developed.  It’s a distraction, not a new policy.
  • Obama’s emergency economic plan includes a $1000 rebate paid for by oil companies and windfall-profits tax, along with a new venture capital fund from other taxes.  Does this signal greater government control over energy production?  Cantor reminds us that windfall-profits taxes were an utter failure, and drove prices up.  Finding culprits instead of solutions is what Obama has been doing.  Two-thirds of Americans support increasing domestic production.  It’s a “populist attempt” to alleviate anxiety, and it doesn’t make any sense at all.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Aren’t we in this situation because after 9/11 the Bush administration missed an opportunity to relieve us of our dependence on Middle East oil?  There are lots of failures in this issue over the last several years.  The important thing is to do something about it now.  We need to summon that collaborative spirit to increase American supply, which is exactly what McCain’s Lexington Plan does.  Obama offers nothing but reductions and shortages.  If he was serious, Obama would demand that Pelosi call a special session to approve more drilling in the US.
  • Chicago Sun-Times: Do you think that oil prices are a bigger problem than pricing on other commodities?  How much of a national policy should we have on cheap oil?   Cantor rejects the idea that this is some sort of entitlement.  Oil prices impact consumers across the board.  Cantor says that economic security depends on ensuring a steady supply of energy, and preferably under our control.

Cantor was pretty impressive in this appearance.  I didn’t get the chance to ask a question today, but I would like to have known his thoughts on the Gang of 10 compromise that appeared on Friday and then got quiet over the weekend.  Otherwise, Cantor sounded ready for battle on energy, well-versed and willing to talk tough about Democratic obstructionism on the issue.

Will he be McCain’s running mate?  I still think he’s a long shot — but he certainly sounded up to the task today.