Here is the opening statement Jamie Franks, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, gave at the start of a news conference here today on Sen. John McCain’s close ties to Big Oil.

JAMIE FRANKS: “Good afternoon.

“Our economy is failing. Businesses are closing and people are losing jobs. The price of food is rising. And we are paying more than we’ve ever paid for a gallon of gas – prices that have dropped slightly after topping $4 a gallon in recent weeks.

“This pain at the pump is a major contributor to our economic problems as many people are emptying their wallets to fill their tank. With prices as high as they are, we could see people forced to decide whether to fill their tank or buy groceries.

“Now, we have a presidential candidate, Republican John McCain, who has an unclear stand on energy and close ties to Big Oil. If he wins the presidency, who would he look out for: His buddies in the oil industry or the working men and women of our state and country?

“Consider these facts:

“McCain has 33 oil and gas industry lobbyists as his campaign advisors. Charlie Black, the most prominent lobbyist in the McCain campaign, lobbied for several oil companies; Mark Buse, McCain’s chief of staff in the U.S. Senate, lobbied for Exxon Mobile
“McCain’s energy plan would cut taxes for oil companies by nearly $4 billion. A study by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that McCain’s plan would include a $1.2 billion tax cut alone for Exxon Mobile – or perhaps we should call it Exxon McCain.
“McCain has accepted more than $2 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil – more than seven times the campaign contributions Democratic nominee Barack Obama received from people connected with the industry.
“The skyrocketing price of gasoline has plagued our country and economy for much of this year. Many people spend $50 or more to fill their tank once, and, sometimes twice or more, a week. And Big Oil is enjoying record profits.

“Less than two weeks ago on July 31, Exxon Mobile reported the largest operating profit in U.S. corporate history – an $11.7 billion profit for the second quarter, caused mostly by rising prices for crude oil. Exxon Mobile’s earnings were up 14 percent from a year ago.

“That same day, Royal Dutch Shell reported its profits rose to $11.56 billion. The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch reported Shell’s profits weren’t much of a shock; the oil and natural gas it produced sold for 76 percent more than it did the same period one year earlier.

“In November, we have a clear choice: Do we support John McCain, whose ties run deep with Big Oil; who has proposed billions in tax breaks for Exxon Mobile; and who has no clear energy policy?

“Or do we support Barack Obama, who offers the change voters want; who plans to invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in finding new energy sources; and who wants to give every working family a $1,000 energy rebate paid for by oil company profits?”

MS Democratic Party