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. ex republican

    Obama campaign: smart move!!!! neutralize the republican's advantage on the issue!!! if both mcCANE and Obama agree on an issue, its NOT an issue.

    August 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  2. António

    I´m not an American citizen.I´m a proudly European... a citizen of the world...I must democrats were had senator Clinton..and you chose an empty suit..the world missed one oportunity... I understand he ones that are voting for macCain...or they will not vote..The world failed again...Hillary2008

    August 1, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  3. For my children I vote for the least worthy.

    The media and the DNC and Oprah will all regret their meddling in our democratic primary. Adults fell for Obama because their children and grandchildren were inspired by him and his rock star status. Now they have Obama remorse.

    The voters are gone now. Obama can't win.

    His every move is a pandering, political posturing lie.

    He is playing the same games too many times.

    No one is listening anymore.

    August 1, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  4. Texas M

    Barrack Obama, the ultimate flip flopper. The problem with Obama is that he doesn't believe half the stuff he says.

    August 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Alice in Florida

    Flip-flop man flips and flops AGAIN!!!!!!!!

    What a SHOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    .......Not really..........

    August 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. Matthew

    And the hateful comments start in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

    August 1, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. REALLY proud now

    So much for the simplistic strategy: divide and conquer.

    Eliminate the only qualified candidate- Hillary Clinton- and the rest is easy.

    With the best candidate out of the picture, even the one-eyed man can be king- this year, in this climate, with the Nation is the sorry state that it is in.

    Obama can sleep walk his way to the presidency.
    Yeah right.

    In this all important year- swiftboat your best to install your worst- and then force all democrats to vote for the one they do not trust or believe in.

    Great strategy. Way to go DNC. At least African Americans are happy. That's what counts after all.

    August 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  8. Lili, FL

    The promise of Change!!!

    Change my opinion so I can get elected

    Change my belief so I can get elected

    Change my change to change my change to get elected

    NoBama '08

    August 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  9. Canadian black & white man for Obama.

    Obama said it before that if there is evident that drill offshore will lower gas price he will compromise. This is not a news cnn.

    manytimes he has repeated it that no one person have said that offshore drilling will lower gas price in the next 2 term presidency, but if there is solid evident he will do that. He is concern about the price of oil /energy and he will be willing to doanything necessary to help America family. Again Obama mention that first of all the oild companies have to use up all the land that are available to them first " use it or lose it.

    this is not news.

    August 1, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  10. RJ, CA

    Are you listening, Obamabots? He's "shifting" again, aka "flip-flopping" - but, of course, THAT term is reserved only for McCain! We all know already: ANY WAY THE WIND GOES - GOES OBAMA.

    But wait - he's black - so he must be "the one" - because "black is beautiful" - he's black, so he MUST be president - because someone has decided that it's time for a "black" president, regardless of his qualifications. Nothing more to Obama than that - he's black!

    Personally, I think "black" is just a skin shade and means nothing in the realm of human possibility - science has shown that we all genetically orignate from some orignal ancestral "black" tribe.

    BUT - that also does NOT signify that being "black" automatically qualifies you for the presidency of the United States.

    And other than being "black," Obama has brought NOTHING significant to the table!

    August 1, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  11. Tejano

    This man is all about change. He changes his mind every 30 seconds. So much for the new politics. Same old crap different form.
    Tell the public what they want to hear, be very vague about it and then you can claim you really didn't mean to say what you said or that you
    misinterpreted his previous comments.

    How about telling the People what you are really planning for my country.

    August 1, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  12. matt

    I think we all realized that Obama had to shift on drilling sooner than later. But did he have to make it so obvious (and in Florida, no less)?

    August 1, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
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