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Kerry: McCain doing 'double-talk dance' for big oil
Nick Juliano
Published: Thursday June 19, 2008

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Throughout the 2004 presidential campaign, Republicans did everything they could to make the name of Democratic candidate John Kerry synonymous with one word: "flip-flopper." Kerry lost the election.

Now the Massachusetts senator is on the other side of that rhetorical coin as a surrogate for Barack Obama's quest for the White House. During an Obama campaign conference call Thursday, Kerry unveiled what might become this year's flip-flopper. He accused Republican nominee John McCain of doing a "double-talk dance" by reversing his positions on off-shore drilling and windfall profits taxes for oil drilling while signaling he might change his mind on drilling in the arctic.

McCain said of his opposition to arctic drilling that he would be "more than happy to examine it again," during a town hall meeting in Missouri.

"That is a position that if you understand it and you're committed to it ... you can't re-examine it because there's no legitimate substantive issue to re-examine," Kerry said, referring to opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Kerry laid out the arguments against opening ANWR, saying it wouldn't help lower current gas prices because oil production there wouldn't be ready for nearly a decade and even in a best-case scenario, opening the refuge would only cause prices to drop by a penny or two per gallon.

"John McCain used to know this stuff. He used to argue these points," Kerry said. "There's nothing there to examine again, John."

The accusations came on the same day that Obama reversed his own earlier commitment to participating in public financing for his election campaign. McCain's campaign released a timeline tracing Obama's history of support for public financing before opting out of what he called a "broken" system on Thursday.

Kerry said opting out was the right decision, despite Obama's earlier pledge, because limiting his fundraising potential by staying in the system would deny his supporters a "truly national campaign." Obama has raised more than $265 million mostly from small-dollar online contributions; he plans to open campaign offices in all 50 states.

In response to a question from RAW STORY, Kerry acknowledged he was not aggressive enough in rebutting the "flip-flop" charges from 2004, but he said McCain had shifted positions far more often during this campaign.

"There was one issue on which the entire Republican campaign based" its line of attack, Kerry said, referring to his vote on war funding.

An early attack ad from President Bush's campaign featured a clip of Kerry saying he "did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." The line would go on to haunt Kerry for the remainder of the campaign, and he said he should have more forcefully explained that he voted for an amendment to the war funding bill then voted against the final bill when that amendment did not pass.

"That was the only position they found because I hadn't changed ... and they knew it," he said.

McCain, on the other hand, Kerry said, had reversed his position on torture; tax cuts, "which he once called dangerous"; the "intolerance" of Jerry Falwell; oil drilling off the coast and other issues.

Kerry tied the Republican nominee to one of his primary opponents who also was seen as disingenuous.

"He's fast moving down the Mitt Romney road of changing on all the fundamental precepts," Kerry said.