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Enviros Tag-Team with MoveOn to Attack McCain over Big Oil

Updated 3:22 p.m.
By Juliet Eilperin
Environmental and liberal groups are teaming up to attack Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on oil drilling today, with the Sierra Club and MoveOn.org both airing television ads linking the presumptive GOP nominee to major oil companies.

While several Democratic-aligned groups have yet to launch independent expenditures this year, environmental groups are planning to run a costly effort to elect Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) despite McCain's historic support for a federal cap on carbon emissions linked to global warming. McCain has cast erratic votes over the years on several environmental issues, and has infuriated green groups with his support for offshore oil drilling and a federal gas tax holiday.

Each separate ad buy will cost six-figures, according to the groups, with the Sierra Club airing its ad statewide in New Hampshire; as well as in Denver, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and (that famous battleground state) DC. That ad suggests "Big Oil companies have our economy and politics in a choke hold" and McCain's answer to rising gas prices is "another $4 billion giveaway to Big Oil." Obama, the group argues, "has a plan the breaks the grip of Big Oil." Earlier this week, the group launched a six-figure radio buy in swing states.

Meanwhile, MoveOn.org PAC unveiled a television commercial this morning featuring a man who looks directly into the camera and speaks to McCain, the way a young mother did in the group's earlier anti-war ad titled "Not Alex." The man tells the Arizona senator he used to think he was "a principled guy," but now considers his offshore drilling plan a gimmick. (See here for more on the MoveOn spot.)

Cathy Duvall, the Sierra Club's political director, said her organization will couple its on-air assault against McCain with get-out-the-vote efforts in the remaining months before the election.

"This TV ad is part of a multi-state independent organizing campaign to educate voters about McCain and Obama's positions on energy and environmental issues," she wrote in an e-mail. "These issues are front and center in this election, and the Sierra Club's brand name and legitimacy on the issues will help swing voters in key battleground states sort through the information to make an informed choice in this election. We are utilizing our broad grassroots reach, and will communicate through paid and earned media efforts and direct one-on-one conversations with voters this summer and fall."

The two progressive groups only disagree on one issue when it to McCain and the fossil fuel industry, according to their press releases: how to frame the amount of money he's received from oil barons. Duvall says in the Sierra Club's press release that "John McCain's taken over $2,000,000 in campaign cash from Big Oil" -- calculated as his total haul for the campaign -- while Eli Pariser, MoveOn's executive director, says McCain "has taken over a million dollars from oil companies" over the past month.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 31, 2008; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Ad Watch , B_Blog , Barack Obama , John McCain  
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