Schweitzer Stresses Energy Independence at DNC

By Beacon Staff

DENVER – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, speaking Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, called on America to wean itself from foreign oil by investing in alternative energy and criticized Sen. John McCain as beholden to big oil companies.

The outspoken governor took several jabs at the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting during the nationally televised speech, which lasted about 15 minutes.

“We can’t simply drill our way to energy independence,” he said. “If you drilled everywhere. If you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, even the ones he doesn’t know he has.”

Schweitzer, a Democrat, was referring to a recent Politico interview in which McCain said he didn’t know how many homes he and his multimillionaire wife own.

Schweitzer, who argued that a McCain presidency would mean four more years of failed policy, said Democratic Sen. Barack Obama was the best candidate to deliver a sound energy strategy.

“Barack Obama knows there’s no single platform for energy independence,” Schweitzer said. “It’s not a question of either wind or clean coal, solar or hydrogen, oil or geothermal. We need them all to create a strong American energy system, a system built on American innovation.”

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds called Schweitzer’s speech “underhanded and incredibly deceitful.”

“It was Barack Obama who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill that resulted in a sweetheart deal for big oil companies, and it was John McCain who stood for the American people and opposed it,” he said.

After accusing McCain of repeatedly voting against renewable and alternative energy and taking more than $1 million in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry, Schweitzer energized the crowd by calling on delegates to stand up and cheer on the convention floor.

“We want them to hear you from Denver to Detroit, from Montana to Mississippi, from California to the Carolinas,” he said to the roaring crowd. “We want even our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan to hear us, and we want you to say it loud now that even the petro-dictators can hear us. … That’s it, baby, let’s go win this election.”

Obama is scheduled to accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday.