Source AP ©

John McCain refers to controversial world leaders in question of energy

Republican John McCain is seeking help from some controversial world leaders.

Oversized photos of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Russian President Vladimir Putin accompany the presidential candidate as he seeks to remind voters that the United States must push for energy independence.

"They illustrate the fragility of our independence on foreign oil and how these people control a large part of the world's oil supply, and how important it is for us to achieve energy independence," McCain told reporters Tuesday as he stood between two photographs - one of Chavez and Ahmadinejad embracing, the other of Putin.

During a campaign stop on Monday in Iowa Falls, the photos were displayed on an easel behind McCain as he spoke to a crowd gathered at a restaurant.

"Here we have two charming individuals, I'm sure you're seen their pictures before," he said of the photo featuring the Venezuelan and Iranian leaders. Then turning to the one of Putin, he said: "And we have another one over here, who as you know, is the president of Russia. He is now more the dictator of Russia than he is the president."

McCain argued that energy independence is tied to national security. He said if radical Islamic extremists are allowed to get a foothold in Iran and Iraq, which could destabilize Saudi Arabia, there would be even greater energy and security problems. He pledged to make energy independence and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions his highest priority if he is elected president.