Rob Portman's Answer to High Gas Prices

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 25, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Gas prices are a major concern for Americans and a hot topic on the campaign trail. Earlier today Senator John McCain told supporters that he wants Americans weaned off foreign oil by 2025.

Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama says McCain is, quote, "full of gimmicks," when it comes to oil independence and his plan would do nothing to help Americans struggling with high prices and would, in fact, deepen U.S. oil dependence.

Joining us now is one of those rumored names out there to be on the McCain ticket, former Ohio congressman, U.S. trade rep, Rob Portman.

Good to see you, sir.


Video: Watch Sean and Alan's interview with Bob Portman

HANNITY: Anybody asked you about this VP job? Did anybody talk to you about it yet?

PORTMAN: I think it's a rumor you started in the FOX newsroom tonight, and I appreciate that, but no. No.

HANNITY: Nobody.


HANNITY: If Senator McCain came to you and asked you to be his vice presidential running mate, what would you say?

PORTMAN: Oh gosh, Sean. By the way I'm with him tomorrow, he's in Cincinnati. I can't wait to see him. We're going to have a town hall meeting and a fundraiser for him.

HANNITY: And what would you say?

PORTMAN: And I'll be talking to him.


PORTMAN: I'll be talking to him about the same things I talked to him last time I was here which is things like energy policy and economic policy so I don't expect to be asked. I really don't. I'm loving being home, too.

HANNITY: All right. But I'm not trying to pressure you here. I do that to liberals.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Go after him.

HANNITY: But if he did, what would you say.

PORTMAN: I got to wait for Alan to go after me on this.

HANNITY: All right.

PORTMAN: You know, I would cross that bridge when I came to it. But, honestly, as you know, Sean, I got home less than a year ago. I was in Washington for 15 years in Congress being in the administration.

HANNITY: All right. You're not going to answer.

PORTMAN: Commuting back and forth. It's just great to be home with three teenagers and an elderly father and it's just.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this.

PORTMAN: It's not something I'm looking forward — I'm looking to. I'm really not.

HANNITY: I will — I'll let you off the hook. I know you don't want to.

PORTMAN: Thank you.

HANNITY: But here's what I want — you know, Barack Obama has — well, he has a lot of slogans, a lot of bumper stickers, platitudes out on the campaign trail, change, change, change. Yes, we can, yes, we can.

But really, shouldn't he be, as it relates to oil, the candidate, no, we can't? We can't drill. We can't build refineries. We won't cut the gas tax for the summer. You know, we can't expand coal mining. We will only attack corporations, which won't add one gallon of gasoline to anybody's tank.

Isn't he — maybe he should change his motto to no, we can't. What do you think?

PORTMAN: Well, that's kind of his approach to energy. And it's interesting because it's such a hot issue right now. But when you look at it, it's pretty simple.

Senator Obama is saying we got to have more alternative energy. Great. Senator McCain has been a leader on that, as you know. Conservation — Senator John McCain is all for that. In fact, he's led the Senate on efforts to increase the corporate (INAUDIBLE), fuel economy and so on.

And then he's saying, yes, let's raise taxes, which we should — we've learned in the 1970s is not going to do anything to increase the supply of oil or reduce the cost.

COLMES: Congressman, you know.

PORTMAN: Senator McCain, on the other hand, is willing to go to the supply side, which is where most Americans are. You know most Americans agree we ought to do more in terms of alternative energy, we ought to do more in terms of conservation.

But we've also got to figure out a way to produce more. And that's.

COLMES: Congressman.

PORTMAN: . where Senator Obama will not go.

COLMES: Appreciate having you on the show.

PORTMAN: And he is saying no.

COLMES: Thanks for being here.

PORTMAN: Good to be on.

COLMES: No VP. I want to ask you about VP. What about senator, governor?

PORTMAN: Listen, I'm really delighted to be home. I do love public service, you know. I hope to get back into it some day. We'll see.

COLMES: You're very good in not answering those questions.

PORTMAN: We will see. We'll see.

COLMES: All right. Look, I keep hearing that Barack Obama wants to raise taxes. He would cut taxes entirely for — elders making 50 grand or less. He would cut taxes for people 75,000 or less. He would reduce the — he would rescind the tax cuts for 250 or more.

And that's basically it. But he would not raise taxes for most Americans. So that's just not accurate. And he would do, you know, Republicans have not promoted alternative energy, conservation. That's not been on the Republican agenda at all. Shouldn't it have been?

PORTMAN: Well, it has been on the agenda. I mean the Congress and administration have supported unprecedented amounts of money, your taxpayer dollars, to help incentivize alternative fuels and also in terms of conservation we've made some recent strides with the recent energy bill.

Senator McCain has been out front on that. In fact he's wanted to do even more in terms of alternative energy and conservation.

COLMES: What have Republicans done on that?


COLMES: What have they done on hybrid cars? What have they done on ethanol? What have they on alternative wind energy and solar?

PORTMAN: Well, in the hybrid cars — there's a tax credit on hybrid cars. I took advantage of it myself when I got a hybrid car a few years ago. I mean it's ridiculous to say we haven't done. We've done some things. But Alan, we haven't done enough. And then that's clear. And with $4 gasoline it's time for us to do more.

And what I was trying to say earlier is that Senator McCain has all the proposals, basically, Senator Obama does in terms of these issues. But then he goes much further and says let's do increase oil and gas production. We're going to need it during the — before these other technologies can come.

COLMES: But our own energy department says drilling will not lower the price.

PORTMAN: And let's go ahead with nuclear power.

COLMES: The issue has been lowering the price and we keep hearing from conservatives drill, drill, drill. It's going to lower the price. Our own energy department says it would not lower the price.

PORTMAN: Of course it will lower the price.

COLMES: . in any significant fashion.

PORTMAN: Of course it'll lower the price. If you have increased supply, it's going to lower the price. The demand continues to increase. The supply is restricted. We're the only major oil-producing country in the world that limits our oil and gas production as we do. It will help. It's not the silver bullet. There is no silver bullet. But it's a comprehensive approach and Senator McCain has that comprehensive approach, including nuclear power.

COLMES: Congressman, we.

PORTMAN: . including using coal which is our greatest natural resource here in terms of energy.

COLMES: We're just out of time, sir. But we thank you very much for coming on the program.

PORTMAN: Thanks, Alan.

COLMES: Any announcement you want to make, come on back Thanks for being here.

PORTMAN: I appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

COLMES: By the way, a blast from the past as we welcome a guest you never thought you'd see on "Hannity & Colmes". Long time Sean Hannity rival Earnest Fritz Hollings joins us coming up.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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