Dodd, trailing in polls, offers ‘bold’ tax-related energy policy

Presidential candidate Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) offered his campaign’s energy plan yesterday, described by an energy expert as “bold,” insisting it has nothing to do with his poor standing in the polls.

Dodd, speaking at the first in a series of presidential candidate speeches at the Center for National Policy, became the first candidate to say his administration would include a corporate carbon tax.

The president of environmental consultancy Green Strategies, Roger Ballentine, said Dodd’s proposals are the boldest he has heard from any candidate thus far.

“I think it’s certainly a great addition to the debate,” Ballentine said. “I think that this certainly sets the standard.”

Ballentine, who served as chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force and deputy assistant to the president for environmental initiatives in the Clinton White House, said he didn’t think Dodd’s early weak positioning would diminish his contribution to the energy debate.

“The issue’s important enough that when serious answers are put out there, it’s debated,” Ballentine said. “He’s a serious guy.

“The media attention isn’t there, but the other candidates are going to notice this.”

Ballentine said that while he has not seen the plans of other candidates in the field, he does consider former Sen. John Edwards’s (D-N.C.) plan “bold” as well.

Following Dodd’s remarks, the Connecticut senator told The Hill that he doesn’t take polling this early in the race too seriously, and that there is too much focus on dollars raised and national polls.

“The polls don’t mean anything at this point,” he said, adding that he finds the early means of keeping score “kind of amusing.”

The senator’s wide-ranging policy speech contained a number of shots at the current administration — as well as one comment that could be construed as a swipe at his Democratic rivals.

“In 2008, some say we need experience, others say we need hope,” Dodd said. “I think we need both in this country.”

Dodd said afterwards it was not his intent to attack his rivals, and he had no one specific in mind.

The senator’s energy address included a challenge to farmers to produce more crops for biofuels and a call to increase car mileage standards to 50 miles per gallon, “not to punish America’s beleaguered automakers, but to save them, making them far more competitive.”

Like his Democratic rivals, Dodd took the Bush administration to task for having “abandoned” the Kyoto Protocol and announced that his administration would convene an International Global Warming Summit.
Former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-Ind.), president of the Center for National Policy, offered Dodd a glowing introduction, calling the senator “a thoughtful and visionary leader” speaking on an issue that is “critically important to our national security.”

Dodd’s speech was the first in what Roemer said he hopes will be a series of presentations from presidential candidates.

So far, only Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who has been cryptic if not confusing when discussing his electoral intentions, is scheduled to appear next month.