McCain Names His Energy Proposal, Slowly
By Michael D. Shear
LAS VEGAS -- Sen. John McCain today gave a name to the grab-bag of energy proposals he's unveiled in the last week: The Lexington Project, named, he said, for the town where Americans asserted their independence.
In a speech at the University of Nevada, McCain vowed to break America's reliance on foreign oil by 2025, declaring that the need to achieve "strategic independence" should be a "test of foresight, of political courage, and of the unselfish concern that one generation owes to the next."
The speech offered little new in the way of policy, but rather a repetition of his proposals to date. He promises to begin construction of 45 new nuclear plants, offers tax credits to people who buy energy efficient cars and pledges a $300 million prize to someone who invents the next generation electric car battery.
"This pledge is addressed to all concerned -- to those abroad whose power flows from an accident of geology, and to you, my fellow Americans, whose strength proceeds from unity of purpose," he said. "Together, we will break the power of OPEC over the United States."
But the speech allowed another glimpse of McCain's speechmaking struggles, as he competes against a candidate whose rhetorical abilities are much praised.
One of the key moments in today's speech was the naming of his energy policy -- something that had not been presented to the press ahead of time.
But he flubbed it.
"In recent days I have set before the American people an energy plan, the Lexington --the Lexington Project, Lexington Project, remember that name," he said to the crowd.
The line fell flat, prompting no applause from the audience of about 200 people.
The crowd applauded several times during the speech, but not especially enthusiastically. And McCain appeared surprised several times, as if he didn't expect any sort of reaction from the people he was talking to.
Republicans outside of McCain's campaign have expressed frustration with McCain's speechmaking ability. (He uses both a teleprompter and a large flat-screen television with the speech scrolling down in a huge font.)
Aides have acknowledged the shortcomings of McCain's speech in Kenner, La., on the day Obama clinched the nomination. But they have not stopped scheduling speeches for McCain, who has given several in the last three weeks.
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