WASHINGTON - US presidential hopeful Barack Obama, pictured, has branded John McCain a stooge of profit-soaked oil giants as the rivals duelled on high petrol prices and energy policy three months from election day.
Celebrating his 47th birthday on Monday, the Democratic candidate launched a stinging counter-attack after his Republican rival had last week cast him as a vacuous celebrity unfit to lead at a time of gathering crisis.
Unveiling a new energy plan, Obama promised a 10-year, R1100billion drive to cut US "addiction" to oil from global hot spots such as the Middle East and Venezuela.
"Breaking our oil addiction is one of the greatest challenges our generation will ever face," Obama said in Michigan, the general election battleground state which is home to the crippled US motor industry.
After McCain's media onslaught last week, Obama also hit back with his own new advertisement, claiming the Arizona senator was "in the pocket" of oil firms basking in record profits.
"After one president in the pocket of big oil . we cannot afford another," the advert said, in a reference to President George Bush, a former oil executive.
Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan said: "As it turns out, Big Oil's most successful speculating wasn't in the oil fields. It was in Washington where they invested millions in John McCain and got their money's worth." - Sapa-AFP