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Clinton says Obama voted for oil firm tax breaks

Sen. Hillary Clinton on Friday renewed her attack on oil company profits and accused Sen. Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, of supporting tax breaks for oil companies.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton addresses the media about rising fuel prices with John Curran, Independent Gulf station owner, at his gas station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania March 14, 2008. (REUTERS/David DeNoma)

Speaking at a campaign rally for about 2,000 supporters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Clinton said both Obama and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain had voted for a bill to cut oil company taxes.

"They voted yes to more giveaways to the oil companies," she said during a 40-minute speech.

Citing Exxon Mobil Corp's latest annual profit of $40 billion, Clinton said that as president, she would require oil companies to invest in alternative forms of energy or else be subject to a windfall profits tax.

She pledged to set up a $50 billion Strategic Energy Fund to develop non-fossil fuel energy sources, and would pay for it by ending tax subsidies that she said have been enjoyed by oil companies during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush.

Clinton and Obama are locked in a bitter Democratic fight in the state-by-state contests to determine who will face McCain in November's presidential election. Pennsylvania's April 22 contest has the biggest single-state haul of nominating delegates - 158 - remaining in the race.

The new U.S. administration, Clinton said, should place a high priority on the search for clean, renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.

"We have to have the same commitment to the energy race as we had to the space race," the New York senator said.

Development of alternative energy sources and the promotion of energy independence could generate 5 million new jobs in the next 10 years, she added.

Obama's campaign did not immediately respond to Clinton's statements on the economy. The Illinois senator gave several television interviews on Friday night to repudiate controversial remarks made by his Chicago pastor.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to a Pennsylvania gas station, Clinton also called for higher fuel economy standards for vehicles and a one-year moratorium on additions to the nation's strategic oil reserves.

Clinton told the rally the U.S. economy is in trouble and she accused Bush, who acknowledged current economic strains in a speech in New York on Friday, of being too late to recognize the problems and being willing to do "very little" about it.

With oil at around $110 a barrel, she said Bush had failed to negotiate lower prices with major producers such as Saudi Arabia.

"You will not catch me as your president holding hands with the Saudis," she said. "I will be holding them accountable."

Lindsey Davis, 26, said before the speech she hadn't made up her mind which Democrat to vote for, and wanted to hear Clinton's views on the economy, Iraq and gay rights.

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