Reality Check: McCain Prius Backlash?


Detroit – In the battleground state of Michigan, John McCain is taking heat in recent days for purchasing foreign cars – especially the pet Prius he bought his daughter.


Welcome back to the real world, candidate McCain.


As a senator, McCain has basked in the approving glow of Washington and press elites who think that purchasing a Toyota Prius is a high moral achievement. McCain was quick to note to the Detroit News, when he visited us during the primaries, that he had purchased the Japanese-made hybrid for his daughter – part of his moral duty to “do everything” to “save the planet.” His hybrid investment no doubt is also well received at Georgetown and Sedona diner parties.


But now that he is campaigning in the industrial Midwest, his purchase is being seen in a wholly different moral light: A betrayal of American industries trying to “save American jobs.”


Union independents – so-called Reagan Democrats — are crucial to McCain winning here in November, a fact that Obama-supporting UAW President Ron Gettelfinger knows all too well. So Gettelfinger has unleashed a fusillade of criticism aimed at McCain for buying foreign.


It’s not that the UAW chief is opposed to hybrids, mind you. But if it’s green McCain wants, he should buy a Ford Escape hybrid as Gettelfinger’s man Obama has done. Never mind that McCain’s personal car (he owns 13 vehicles in all, just three of them foreign) – a Cadillac CTS – contains 82 percent of domestic-manufactured parts while Obama’s Ford contains only 63 percent.


“‘Buy American’ can’t just be a slogan John McCain rolls out when he’s in Michigan,” Gettelfinger said Sunday. “We are going to make an all-out, full-court press to make sure these issues get out in front of our members and the general public.”


Saving the planet apparently isn’t common cocktail conversation with these voters.

All of which serves as a reminder that green is an upper-class thing. Those politicians who think it trumps middle-class pocketbook issues need only look at how easily Mr. McCain’s Prius can be exploited.


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