Chicago Sun-Times
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Gas tax holiday won't happen, why Clinton talks about anyway.

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INDIANAPOLIS -- With crucial votes in Indiana and North Carolina on Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton is stressing she is about "real and immediate solutions," with no better dramatic example than the federal gas tax holiday she is pushing.

Differences with Sen. Barack Obama over the gas tax is the central domestic issue in the closing days of these primaries.

(This appears in the May 5 print Sun-Times.)

On Sunday, Clinton was pressed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" for the name of even one economist who thought her plan was a good idea, and she was stumped.

But to suspend the tax takes an act of Congress -- and none of the Democratic leaders who control the House and Senate has signed on to lifting the gas tax, so that means it won't happen. The Clinton team has got to know this, but they are betting voters will see Obama's opposition to the gas tax holiday as an academic -- read that elitist -- argument.

During a conference call with Clinton spokesmen Howard Wolfson and Phil Singer, I asked if Clinton had a back-up plan.

Said Wolfson, "We are not on Plan B yet, Lynn. We are still on Plan A."

• • •

Speaking of energy, I noticed that Obama and Clinton have been sharing the same metaphor lately.

In Indianapolis on Sunday, Obama told Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press" that the United States is "the Saudi Arabia of coal, and I don't think that we can dismiss out of hand the use of coal as part of our energy mix."

Clinton at a Saturday outdoor event in Wake Forest, N.C., was talking about alternative fuels. Said Clinton, "We are sitting on a Saudi Arabia of wind."

• • •

Obama's not done yet with Wright questions. He told Russert he has not quit Trinity United Church of Christ despite denouncing Wright. He also said there he will not seek his political advice. And Obama played shrink in trying to figure out why Wright -- who is retiring -- went on a media tour last week, capped with the disaster at the National Press Club. "I think that it's possible, as a consequence of him retiring, that having the spotlight was something attractive to him."

• • •

Hoosier Democrats held their annual Jefferson Jackson dinner at the convention center here with Obama and Clinton. Hoosiers here mentioned as possible vice presidential contenders were visible: Clinton backer Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), and Obama supporter former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.), the former 9-11 commissioner

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 5, 2008 9:35 AM.

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