August 2nd, 2008
02:21 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama says offshore drilling stance nothing new

If President Bush persuades Congress to lift the ban, oil rigs like this one off Canada will appear off U.S. shores.
If President Bush persuades Congress to lift the ban, oil rigs like this one off Canada will appear off U.S. shores.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama responded Saturday to criticism that he shifted his position opposing offshore oil drilling.

Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama told The Palm Beach Post early into a two-day swing through Florida.

But on Saturday morning, Obama said this "wasn't really a new position."

"I made a general point about the fact that we need to provide the American people some relief and that there has been constructive conversations between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on this issue so I applaud them on that but I am not ready to sign off on any particular approach or proposal because I think these are very important issues," he said during a press conference in Cape
Canaveral, Florida.

Obama added: "What I will not do, and this has always been my position is to support a plan that suggests this drilling is the answer to our energy problems. If we've got a plan on the table that
I think meets the goals that America has to set and there are some things in there that I don't like then obviously that's something that you know I would consider because that's the nature of how we
govern in a democracy."

The senator from Illinois has railed against offshore drilling since Sen. John McCain in June proposed striking down the federal moratorium banning offshore oil and gas drilling to help alleviate high gas
prices.

"When I'm president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida's coasts," Obama told reporters in Jacksonville
in late June. "That's how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good."

Even as recently as Thursday, Obama refused to cede any ground, calling McCain's proposal "a strategy designed to get politicians through an election."

"It's not going to provide short-term relief or medium-term relief or in fact long-term relief. It won't drop prices in this administration or in the next administration or in the administration after that,"
Obama said while campaigning in Iowa.

But Friday, Obama admitted that something is better than nothing and praised a bipartisan energy plan from the Senate that combines alternative energy innovation, financial, nuclear energy and drilling proposals. He noted he is still skeptical about drilling's potential to lower gas prices or reduce dependence on foreign oil.

"The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the interview with the Florida paper, "and so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done."

The McCain camp was quick to applaud what they said was Obama's softening on the issue.

"It's clear that members of both parties are following John McCain's leadership toward an 'all of the above' approach on energy that includes nuclear, alternative energy, and offshore drilling," said a
McCain spokesman. "We hope Barack Obama will realize that his ongoing opposition to John McCain's realistic energy solutions and additional offshore drilling is wrong."

McCain's views on offshore drilling appear to match those of many Americans, according to another CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll out Thursday.

Just more than half of those polled said the ban on additional offshore drilling is a major cause of high fuel prices. The same number cite the Bush administration and the war in Iraq as causes.

The poll indicates that about two-thirds of Americans think U.S. oil companies and foreign countries that produce oil are major causes of higher gas prices.

One group gets relatively little blame. Thirty-one percent of those polled said the Democrats in Congress are a major cause of gas prices.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (413 Responses)
  1. Clinton/McCain

    Flip flop #5234

    August 2, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. emmanuel davies

    all through the democratic primary obama talk about alternative sources of energy other than drilling. the fact the obama is looking at a compromise for the benefit of the american people, to ease their pain in their everyday life is a win for america. the combination of the two candidates ideas to solve the energy problem is the best way forward. it is unfair to say obama is following mccain's lead. thats just not true like the many untrue messages in almost all of mccain's negative ads. this is why the republicans has ruined the country's economy with these kind of negative mindset.now that the same group that ridicule mccain during past republicans primary is onboard the mccain's campaign, the future might not be different from the eight (8) years of Bush.

    August 2, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. RAMIRO

    i am brasilian but i love usa so much , the american men is so sexy , i would like make a very good love with a american , they are number une for sexy and love please sand me a man from usa i love you so much RAMIRO RAMOS a very good gay 16 years .

    August 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Hans-Erik Iken

    A good leader is willing to change his position if that leads to the desired result. If off-shore drilling is an integral part of a comprehensive energy policy then he should consider it, but ONLY if there are other compelling reasons rather then just driling.

    If this means the oil companies would be willing to re-invest the money they make with this in renewable energy I can understand it.

    If not then there is no reason to change the position for Obama.

    August 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. John

    The off-shore drilling was not the only issues. What about holiday tax break? He voted for it before, then against it during the primary. It is very clear that when something he opposed becomes popular, he always changes his mind to get you like him. That's the change you can believe in?

    August 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Obama For President

    Compromising to get things done in Washington is not flip-flopping, even Republicans can agree to this. I applaud his position and wish people would see this man is pushing issues that effect Americans at the top of the list and willing to negotiate terms of agreement. This is what we need in a president not cynisism.

    August 2, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Mad

    Obama said this "wasn't really a new position."

    Actions speak louder than words Obama
    Again he has 2 sides to an issue and all these people are mesmorized by his words...

    August 2, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. aware

    Mr. "Change" positions is at it again. I didn't think he would stay in the box he created for himself! :(

    Give it up Barack. You just have no judgment!

    Senator John McCain 08, the only wise choice and Senator Hillary Clinton 2012, the best ever! :)

    August 2, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. emmanuel davies

    all through the democratic primary obama talk about alternative sources of energy other than drilling. the fact the obama is looking at a compromise for the benefit of the american people, to ease their pain in their everyday life is a win for america. the combination of the two candidates ideas to solve the energy problem is the best way forward. it is unfair to say obama is following mccain's lead. thats just not true like the many untrue messages in almost all of mccain's negative ads. this is why the republicans has ruined the country's economy with these kind of negative mindset.now that the same group that ridicule mccain during past republicans primary is onboard the mccain's campaign, the future might not be different from the eight (8) years of Bush.
    emmanuel,roseville, ca

    August 2, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. TN Firefighter

    We have had 7 years of "leadership" that would dig their heels in and not budge on any issue. This has caused us as Americans to fight against one another instead of working towards what's best for the country we all love. We finally have a potential leader who is willing to take a stand, review the evidence and take a different path if called for. Imagine where we might be if Bush had been willing to do the same thing? Isn't it time we stopped all the bickering and name calling and worked together to achieve what we all want... a strong America?

    By the way: Flip Flopping is not changing ones mind in the face of new evidence etc. Flip Flopping, by it's original definition, would be to tell California you are against off shore drilling, then tell Ohio you are for it, then tell Florida you are against it, then tell tell Texas you are for it etc. etc. etc. This is not what Obama has done. He said he is still against it, but is willing to compromise if it means that we will also explore other options. Sounds like reaching across the aisle to me in order to avoid the gridlock of the past 7 years.

    Me? Count me in!

    Obama '08

    August 2, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  11. bakersfield

    is this politics of old?

    August 2, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Sherry, Atlanta

    DRILLING, will not solve our 'Dependence On Oil'.

    America need's a 2/fold:
    -Creating Green Jobs/Energy
    -Climate Improvement

    * AMERICA WILL HAVE TO SACRIFICE NOW, IN ORDER TO BE BETTER PREPARED FOR TOMORROW

    August 2, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Bill

    Of cours Obama won't "sign off" on a plan (unless one of the choices is "Present").

    August 2, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Democrat for media accountability

    I don't understand why the media is so misrepresenting this event, and why aren't any comments being posted, are they all calling you on it CNN? This isn't a policy change

    August 2, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. bk

    We told you he would flip flop. Obama goes the way the wind blows. Fisa, gun control, NAFTA, and now drilling. How can anyone vote for this man? He stands for nothing and does not have one idea of his own. The messiah is going to lose.

    August 2, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Republican trash

    This man is willing to move towards the middle to get things done, to stop the gridlock, very carefully overseeing everything, he is willing to work togather, and still the republicans are complaining!!! UNBELIEVABLE, he's shifted towards your position and STILL I read you calling him a flipflopper because he's willing to work with congress and compromise?? There's no pleasing you republican trash is there!

    And sexist Puma, sometime's I hope Mccain wins just so he can set Women back another 200 years, the funny thing is a lot of the Puma pact are also men that wouldn't care, the women are just blindly listening to them.

    August 2, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Ron democrat turned independent

    what part of McCain's plan as he not listened to McCain as always said that his plan was to utilize the resources and technology that we know to sustain us while we experiment with other technology that will free us from dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuel. as always like he did with Clinton he uses a slight variation of someones idea that he originally rejected to come on board once he sees the public want it. this exact maneuver was mentioned on this blog just a week ago anticipating it was going to happen

    August 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Dylan Los Angeles

    We already have offshore drilling. the issue is whether or not to expand ocean drilling. If compromise with the Republicans to have only a limited expansion will get "them" to agree to a broader plan that includes solar, wind and other alternatives....then it makes sense.

    Otherwise the Big Oil-backed Republicans will pertually point the finger and nag about this.

    August 2, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Cynthia

    It shows that Senator Obama is willing to compromise as well as work across party lines especially if there is a reasonable and constructive way of working on an issue. The off shore drilling won't bring any immediate results for those of us who feel it at the gas pumps and is by no means a soultion to the problem long term.

    August 2, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Janet

    Yet another flip-flop. (sigh)

    August 2, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Timber (ex dem)

    LOL, are you kidding? Watch him flip flop on that! He is only saying that to try to get more white votes. Reparations indeed!! There are no people alive today that owned a slave or was a slave, period. Bill Cosby is right, it is only being used as a crutch, "I can't do this or I can't do that because my ancestors were slaves" Baloney. Many of us had it bad back in those days, we all moved on.

    August 2, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. PC

    No matter how much Obama finesses this, it's a bad move. Listen up Obama, while voters want a candidate who shares their views, they also want somebody who sticks to his guns. Obama would do nuch better if he were to show us what his core values are and what policies he'll stand by, even if they are unpopular. Obama really wants to win he needs to start showing us who he really is and what he really believes in.

    August 2, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. tedious898

    Ok McCain supporters ...."Barack flipped – blah blah"

    If you people had a "surge" of intelligence, you might realize this is Barack's why of getting that idiot campaign of McCain's to focus on issues most important to Americans...as opposed to pictures of Brittany, Paris and Moses.

    What losers the republicans are! They have to be tricked into talking about something substantive when unemployment is the highest in 5 years. What dults!

    August 2, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Sammy

    Going to be tricky handling this. If I were him I would attach all kinds of provisions to agreeing to some drilling. See just how much the Republicans and oil companies want to drill and what they are willing to do. One thing that comes to mind is a large amount of money the oil industry must pay up front every year in case of environmental damage. I'm sure they dont want to.

    August 2, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. jimtranr in Oregon

    It's a slippery slope you begin descending once you start backpedaling, as Obama did on FISA and public financing of his campaign. Now it's offshore drilling. So what's next and how much farther down does he intend, or is he willing, to slide?

    I don't mind political pragmatism. But after building your rise to presumptive nominee on soaring rhetoric proclaiming you as a different kind of politician and then keep backsliding on a more or less weekly basis, you raise legitimate doubts about your authenticity and credibility. The issue's not whether you wear a flag on your lapel, but whether you've been flying under a false one of "change" all this time.

    August 2, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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