WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Republican John McCain on Wednesday credited the recent $10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil to President George W. Bush's lifting of a presidential ban on offshore drilling, an action he has been advocating in his presidential campaign.
The cost of oil and gasoline is "on everybody's mind in this room," McCain told a town-hall meeting in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
He criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama for opposing drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Ten days ago, Bush lifted a 1990 presidential ban on offshore drilling and urged Congress to do likewise. "The price of oil dropped $10 a barrel," said McCain, who argued that the psychology of lifting the ban has affected world markets.
A barrel of light, sweet crude fell $1.86 to $126.56 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is down from more than $140 a barrel earlier in the summer.
Criticism heats up
McCain also said Obama's Iraq policies amount to "unconditional withdrawal." His criticism of his Democratic rival has heated up as Obama has drawn the lion's share of attention over the past few days for his visit to Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and other destinations.
McCain said Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops over a 16-month period "could lead to a resurgence in our enemies, and we would have to come back."
Under a McCain presidency, the Arizona senator said, "We will never have to go back. We will have won this conflict."
Pennsylvania is a key battleground state. Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry carried the state in 2000 and 2004 while losing nationally to Republican George W. Bush. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton easily bested Obama in winning the Pennsylvania primary in April.
McCain said that the cost of oil and gas was "an energy issue, an environmental issue and a national security issue."
McCain also said that, if elected, he would have a news conference once a week.
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He also suggested that he would regularly submit himself to questioning before the House speaker and minority leader just as "the British prime minister goes before Parliament and answers some pretty interesting questions."
"Why not," asked McCain. "I think it would be fun."
He was spending the rest of the day campaigning in Pennsylvania, and then heading to Louisiana.
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