Burr acts as McCain proxy for campaign

When Republican John McCain's campaign needed a surrogate to blast Democrat Barack Obama's energy policy Tuesday, it turned to Sen. Richard Burr.

Burr dismissed Obama's energy proposals as “ludicrous,” and said they “mirror the inaction of the Democratic leadership in Congress.”

It was just the latest occasion when the Winston-Salem Republican has acted as a surrogate for the Arizona senator and presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

He campaigned for McCain in the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire. He has since been a proxy more than a dozen times on cable news programs and conference calls on issues from energy to education to health care.

Burr, a first-term senator after five terms in the House, has been on some lists of possible running mates for McCain. This month, with the campaign's blessing, he was named co-chairman of the party's platform committee.

“Sen. Burr is a leader in the campaign,” McCain spokesman Jeff Sadosky said Tuesday.

Burr was one of McCain's earliest backers.

He endorsed his Senate colleague in March 2007 and stuck with him as McCain's fortunes tumbled and rose again.On Tuesday, Burr joined McCain advisers in blasting Obama's opposition to offshore drilling.

“He continues to oppose any additional exploration attempts domestically by the country,” said Burr, who supported the drilling moratorium as recently as 2006. “It's important that we increase supply. It is important that we reduce consumption.”

In California Tuesday, McCain appeared with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who supports a federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling. McCain would let states open their waters.

Speaking in Las Vegas, Obama called for more investment in alternative fuels financed in part by taxes on oil company profits. He dismissed McCain's drilling proposal as a gimmick.

“He wants to open our coastlines to drilling – a proposal that his own top economic adviser admitted won't provide any short-term relief at the pump,” Obama said.