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

Obama says offshore drilling stance nothing new

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="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

"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. Fella from Chicago

    Senator Obama; you're following the lead of Senator McCain. The 71 yr old Senator has been one step ahead of you of late. America has taken notice. No wonder the polls are tightening.

    August 2, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  2. Jody Monroe

    Where are the candidates' policy statements? I would like to see ENERGY POLICIES for both McCain and Obama - and the OTHER candidates as well!

    CNN, can you please get right on this?

    August 2, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. WhoWhat

    I find it difficult to believe this man actually has the support of anyone, as his only consistency is he will change his mind to match the polls. He is an ultra-liberal who will do anything- say anything to get elected. If elected he will tax and spend the nations productive people until they close their businesses and hide what money they have off shore, taxing the so-called rich is a recipe for disaster.

    August 2, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. yie lee

    Is 'change' so important that he'd support a permanent destruction of pristine habitat for a few pennies of 'change' per gallon of gas?

    His defense of this new position is ugly. Does he think his supporters are stupid? He has definitely lost my vote.

    August 2, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  5. Sammy

    It seems like this is probably linked to the compromise the 'gang of 10' came up with this week. Drilling in some places but not Alaska and California. And they are driving a hard bargain for the Republicans. They will have to agree to many things they oppose (many Bush does not want and could possibly veto the whole thing) if they want to say they succeeded on drilling. The Democrats will have to agree to things also but to me it looks like the Republicans will have to give in to more.

    Curious however. Obama seems open to this compromise but McCain is totally opposed. It will be be interesting to see their respective supporters reactions if it goes through.

    August 2, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  6. Rave

    Offshore drilling should always be the last resort.. And I am sure now the oil companies wont reduce the price of gas – cause they are used to high profits with the help of their corrupt counterparts – GOP.
    McPain wants to take credit for Offshore drilling.. as if he created all the oil below our soil by pissing in a hole ??
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    August 2, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  7. Brian, Pittsburgh

    If a candidate sticks to his guns, he's attacked for being arrogant and too rigid. If a candidate says he's willing to compromise, he's attacked for "flip-flopping", "shifting", or being "weak".

    I am glad to know that Obama is willing to work with others, even those he disagrees with, in order to find a solution to our problems. If only the rest of Washington would start making compromises, we might get something done!

    August 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Connie

    How will that be a president that is smart, controlled, young, liked by those overseas and can compromise. Obama
    Connie from Indiana

    August 2, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. Christopher in Silicon Valley

    Go see "Swing Vote"! I saw it last night & this reminds me of it!

    August 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  10. CywBENZ, PA

    Oh give me a break!!!!! John McCain JUST DROPPED HIS OPPOSITION TO OFFSHORE DRILLING IN LATE JUNE OF THIS YEAR! He, along with most other republicans voted against offshore drilling, and his mind wasn't changed about offshore drilling until he saw that the big oil companies were not donating to his campaign in record numbers as they do all of the republican campaigns. Not to mention he needed Bush to raise funds for him, and how's that going to happen with him opposing Bush's idea to distract the public with this gimmick of offshore drilling, which will NOT PRODUCE A SINGLE DROP OF OIL FOR YEARS AND YEARS. Additionally, he and his wife as multi-millionaires in part because of the oil companies (and her beer fortune), can't wait to explore for more oil so that their pockets can be increased. It's pathetic that now McCain ALONE wants to take credit for the idea of offshore drilling, which as I stated, HE OPPOSED UNTIL THE SECOND WEEK IN JUNE!

    August 2, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. Shilo

    No. Barack Obama is wrong. McCain is a racist.

    August 2, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  12. Tarrie

    McCain shifted his position on offshore drilling just like Obama.

    August 2, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  13. matt in ca

    If it is nothing new why did he wait until Friday afternoon to put it out there? Releasing statements that could be considered contreversial or unpopular ar always released on Friday afternoon so the media cannot dwell on it for a week. Obama clearly saw that his tax payer sponsored photo op through the Middle East and Europe gave him no bounce, and according to some polls posssibly hurt him with typical bitter white people ( blue collar voters ) in several key battleground states. I guess he saw the polls that 70% of Americans want to increase offshore drilling and decided it was time for a pattented Obamaflop. Kind of like ending the war in Iraq, kind of like not dividing Jeruselam, kind of like FISA, kind of like universal healthcare. Obama cannot be trusted, not because he "dose not look like all thoes presidents on the dollar bills", not because he has a "funny name", not because he of Rev. Wright. Obama can't be trusted because he is a big fat race baiting bold faced liar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NObama, NOvember, NOway!!!! PUMA 08 – Clinton 2012

    August 2, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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