NEW YORK -- Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry will seek sharply higher fuel economy standards if he wins the White House in November, a key Republican senator warned Monday.
"He can say different things, but that's where he is, and that's who he is, and it'll come to the fore at some point," said Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.
In March 2002 Bond teamed with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to muster Senate opposition to Kerry's fuel economy proposal. It would have raised car and light truck standards to a combined 36 mpg in a decade. It would have been a 50 percent increase in corporate average fuel economy standards, or CAFE. They are 27.5 mpg for cars and 20.7 for trucks.
Automakers and workers complained that such an increase would devastate the industry. Ultimately senators rejected the Massachusetts Democrat's plan by a 68-32 margin.
This year UAW officials said Kerry vowed to them that, as president, he would not push any plan that would destroy jobs. And Kerry's campaign position paper on energy speaks only generally of the need to make vehicles more fuel efficient.
Bond, seeking a fourth six-year term himself, said autoworkers ought to be wary of Kerry's vow because their jobs are still at stake in the upcoming election.
"I think that's an important point in the campaign," Bond said. His state, like other major automaking states, is considered one of the few battlegrounds where the presidential election will be decided.
Bond's remarks came in a brief interview following a reception in his honor held during the Republican National Convention.
It was sponsored in part by the American International Automobile Dealers Association and was held at Madame Tussauds near Times Square. In a darkened ballroom, guests mingled among uncanny wax likenesses of Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki and Colin Powell.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., told her state's delegates that she brought up fuel economy as a presidential issue during an appearance this week on a national TV news channel. But a Democratic strategist then scoffed that average people don't understand CAFE.
Miller told to her whooping delegation that average workers understand that CAFE is a jobs issue.