John McCain — whose campaign launched an ad this week blaming Barack Obama for high prices at the pump — said Wednesday President Bush's new push for offshore oil drilling deserves the credit for the recent drop in crude oil prices.
"In case you missed it, soon as the President announced that we were going to end the moratorium on offshore drilling the price of a barrel of oil went down $10," the presumptive Republican nominee said at a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania town hall.
Whatever the validity of the claim (there's considerable reason to doubt it), this strikes me as another political misstep by McCain. The trick for him is to find ways to reassure the conservative base, with whom Bush is still popular, quietly--at behind-closed-doors fundraisers and the like--while making a broader public pitch that he's a "maverick" who "stands up to his party" and "offers new solutions." The last thing he wants is to go out of his way to undermine his gas-prices pitch (which has been, to date, perhaps his most significant pander to the center) by associating it with a president whose job approval is stuck at under 30 percent.