GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (CNN) - John McCain and Sarah Palin hold opposite opinions on the prospect of drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve - Palin supports drilling in ANWR. McCain opposes it. But in their first unscripted appearance together on Wednesday evening, the running mates telegraphed that they’ll just agree to disagree.
At one moment during the pair’s first joint town hall meeting, a voter inquired about their position on offshore drilling. Palin obliged, arguing for drilling off America’s coastline, but she also argued for more forcefully than McCain has in the past for drilling onshore, on lands already leased for oil exploration.
“When people are hurting, they need to tap those resources and get those sources flowing,” she said, referring to high gas prices.
Talking about onshore drilling comes easy to Palin - since becoming governor in 2006, she has pressed for more energy exploration in ANWR and elsewhere in Alaska, often taking her argument to national media outlets.
And if her remarks in Grand Rapids sounded familiar, it’s because she’s offered very similar reasoning in the past when making the case for opening up ANWR for drilling.
“There are still a lot of places in America of course that need to be tapped,” she said at the town hall. “There are proven resources in these areas in Alaska, in the Dakotas, some new finds there. We have billions and billions and billions of barrels of oil underground in the United States of America. We have hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas onshore and offshore.”
McCain and Palin’s disagreement on ANWR was brought to the fore on Wednesday when a voter asked the Alaska governor if she had been able to change’s McCain’s mind on the issue.
“Still working on it!,” Palin said, to laughter and applause.
“This meeting is adjourned,” McCain cracked.
Indeed, early on in the event, McCain seemed to pre-emptively knock down the significance of any policy disputes between the two candidates. Along with drilling in ANWR, McCain and Palin don’t see eye to eye on other issues, such as stem cell research and whether or not global warming is man-made.
“By the way, you may figure out from time to time, Sarah and I don’t agree on every issue,” he said. “What do you expect of two mavericks, to agree on everything? Eh?”