ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala Reports: Minnesota Gov. and prospective GOP vice presidential nominee Tim Pawlenty continued criticism of Sen. Barack Obama's energy policies in an RNC conference call this evening, saying Obama has misunderstood the energy crisis, and is now "scrambling to make up for his lack of judgment" on the issue.
"I don't think he has a compass when it comes to this issue. He's obviously thrashing about to catch up to the idea of the week," he said of Obama's energy plan outlined on Monday. "We're glad he's migrated more and more to Sen. McCain's position and vision for a better energy future. But it's obviously belated, it's obviously half-hazard."
Pawlenty again hit Obama for his advice to a voter last week to to fully inflate their tires as a way to conserve fuel, saying it was an ineffective substitute for measures such as offshore oil drilling, expanding nuclear energy, and a gas tax holiday. Pawlenty introduced a tire gauge as a prop during a speech at an Ames, Iowa GOP campaign headquarters opening on Saturday -- a prop Sen. John McCain's campaign has embraced in its criticisms of Obama's energy policies this week.
"This icon of the tire pressure gauge is important," Pawlenty said. "Having tires properly inflated helps a little bit but that is not nearly anything close to the broad and comprehensive approach we need."
Obama disputed the charge at a town hall meeting in Berea, Ohio today.
"They're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant," Obama said. "You know, they think it is funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true. They need to do their homework."
But beyond the tire pressure issue, Pawlenty said Obama should call on the Democratic leadership to return to Washington to address off-shore drilling.
"Rather than talking about tire gauges, which is helpful to a small degree, he should be using his relationship with the Democratic leaders of Congress, Nancy Pelosi and the Senate leader, to get Congress to reconvene and deal with these issues in a crisis session this summer," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty has served as a leading surrogate for the McCain campaign and continues to be at the top of the Republican nominee's prospective vice presidential list. Pawlenty will speak at the National Press Club in Washington, DC tomorrow on the topic of "'Sam's Club Republicans' and how the Republican Party can achieve success by addressing the needs of this group of voters."