August 1st, 2008
04:03 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama shifts on oil drilling?

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Obama said Friday he’d be open to offshore drilling if it were part of a comprehensive energy policy."]

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) – Barack 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.

"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done," Obama said.

The senator from Illinois has railed against offshore drilling since 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 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.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. bulldog

    Congratulations for Obama to be willing to work across party lines just like he has said all along. While he doesn't believe it will work he is willing to compromise as long as other energy initiative are included. This is a positive thing.

    August 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. proud army and navy mom

    Obama changing his position on something that is popular......Say it isnt so he has been so honest up to this point........

    New Slogan "Apeasement you can believe in"

    August 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. phony baloney Obama

    The panderer does it again.

    Shift to what polls well.

    Fools for Obama... will continue to defend this flip flopper till the end.

    He is refining again, I guess.

    He lost my vote when he disrespected and encouraged his cult to trash HRC.

    Nothing he does will re-gain my vote.

    August 1, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. Mad

    Again- Obama takes 2 sides on one issue and makes some great speech on it
    People who have never voted before or seen a politician actually try and get votes will eat it up.
    People get a grip this guy will ruin America! Get past the fact that Bush is Republican and McCain is Republican

    Right now the Dems in Senate are acting like idiots- reason not to vote Obama?

    2 sides to everything and it seems Obama chooses both!

    August 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  5. Dems are stuck in the fix they rigged

    Change is what Obama does best...

    Actions... not so much.

    Fools who trashed Hillary to get this demogogue installed as puppet nominee.... the fall of America is on your heads.

    August 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. Sheople yes, people no so much.

    Oh this just gets better and better.

    The Dems buckled to threats from the young "new" hateful democrats and the politically organized 12% of America that votes on race- and they backed the wrong horse.

    The great uniter is the worst divider... and a lying, pandering hypocrit as well.

    Obama fooled the sheep but not us people.

    August 1, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. Sheople yes, people no so much.

    Black is the color of the best liar in politics.

    August 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Mauri

    Wonder how the country would react if Obama was compared to Paris and Britney when it comes to having a change of mind. It's beginning to look like the comparison is not so far off track as one might think. That's amusing to say the least, but makes me uncomfortable to think of this person as President of the United States.

    August 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Democracy over democratic party

    Obama is a beautiful and skillful liar.

    August 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  10. Shannon

    Hahahaha, another change in positions. Someone showed him the poll that said 70% of Americans are for drilling, so of course he flip flopped immediately. What a joke this man is.

    August 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  11. Tina

    This is NOT a flip flop. What Obama is saying is that he is willing to comromise with republican law makers in order to prevent gridlock. For 8 years we had a president who refused to compromise and work across the isle and look where that got us! Obama is not changing his position on drilling! he is saying that he is willing to compromise to achieve his ultimate goal CNN, please do not over sensationalize every little thing that Obama says!

    August 1, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  12. selected not elected

    Wolf... you are losing your sheeps clothing....

    I guess you already have all the sheep following you.

    The pied piper has the loyalty of the new democrats who never cared enough to bother to vote before... and the blind loyalty of all the black Americans who vote based on his color only.

    The rest of the true democrats spotted this demogogue for what he is, early on. It was the viscious attacks on fellow democrats that told us Obama was out for himself and not for the party or the country.

    August 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. Kongtooth

    To FLIP or to FLOP.... that is the question.

    What a joke... someone told him this might be important...

    Obama... change we can believe in... cause if you don't like it now... he will change his stance later...

    The Dalai Bama... 08

    August 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  14. demwit

    Nooooooo, it's not another flip-flop. It's a "policy refinement", just like the others..

    August 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  15. Anna C

    We have to work together to solve this thing, and soon.
    I am told ANWR, if we ever decided to drill there, has about 15 years of oil at our current usage levels.


    August 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. Mike, PA

    Nothing wrong with that. We need a president willing to compromise a little and not think he is GOD!
    The Obominator!
    Woot Woot

    August 1, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Obama will through any under the bus and say anything to get a vote here or a vote there.

    I am shocked that he is so shallow. He is a fluff suiter who gives cotton candy speeches. Nice to hear but no substance.

    He is Risky, Risky Risky. Stay away.

    August 1, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  18. Fear mongering racebaiting hypocrit

    Why not?

    If it polls well Obama will shift.

    Hillary was her own person and stood for what she believed- for that the media hated her and devoured her. For that the DNC swiftboated her. They wanted a controllable charismatic puppet that appealed to people moved by rock star dazzle.

    So they installed the great Obama.

    August 1, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  19. division by race baiting ruined Obama

    I can not believe that I was one of the millions of now-defected democrats who was once willing to vote for Obama.

    After the thrashing they delivered Hillary... I will never more vote democratic- after 35 years.

    Lies, vulgarity, race-baiting and intra-party hate will NOT unite. Is NOT hope. Is NOT change anyone can BELIEVE in.

    Bring back HRC- it may not be too late to salvage this media and DNC created sham of a mess.

    August 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. TheTruthHurts

    This is not really a shift. Before this, he said that if he believed drilling would bring some immediate relief, he'd be for it.

    In reality, if offshore drilling is authorized and it's combined with cap & trade, it doesn't change anything. Why? Because by the time any real amount of oil is produced, the cost and readiness of alternative sources will make it cost competitive. That's the long-term victory we need.

    The real problem is Americans are uninformed. They don't know that we make up 25% of demand and new drilling would make up less than 1% of supply. We can't affect price at that level. They don't know that you can't go to Home Depot, buy a drill and start drilling. They don't understand that pumped oil needs to be refined and refining capacity is already at its limit. They don't know how "dirty" this whole process is and the human (asthma, cancer, etc) and environmental cost. Why we would get our advice from oil companies and an oil man in the White House is beyond me.

    August 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  21. Democracy over democratic party

    Obama refines his positions once again.

    I thought he had perfect vision and judgement?

    Or maybe he just can read polls and what is polling well and recharts his course.

    August 1, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  22. Obama spins again

    STFU Obama...

    You cost the democrats the election.

    You destroyed the party.

    Just stop it. NOW!

    August 1, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  23. John from LA

    This man is all over the map with his standings on issues-what will "The Messiah" believe in tomorrow-he's worse than Kerry in 2004!

    August 1, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  24. Sherry, Atlanta

    President Obama, it's understandable that you want energy relief for America...we really need to think of the long range effect. California is on the 'Brink of Despair' (due to Earthquakes), Florida & Louisanna are constantly confronted with Hurricanes.

    QUESTION: Where do we go from there?

    ANSWER: Wind, Solar, Natural Gas

    August 1, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  25. Yale University

    It's about time Obama got off his high horse and decided to support off shore drilling, even though he only did it because he saw the poll numbers. Off shore drilling won't only lower prices in the long run or mid-long run, but right now. Why don't people realize that the oil prices we all talk about are the oil "futures." If in the future, we know there will be more supply, the price will decline today. Off shore drilling technology has come a long way in terms of safety. It will help create jobs here in America, lower oil prices, and diminish our dependence on foreign oil. We should also be investing heavily in alternative energy sources, like both presidential nominees will. The point is, we have no idea when these other sources will be successful enough to ween us off oil. We should take every measure to secure energy indepenence, including off shore drilling. It's just sad that Obama had to wait until 3/4 of Americans said they wanted it to change his mind.

    August 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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