August 2nd, 2008
02:21 PM ET
12 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

"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. No Nos No Nos Moveran

    For me the truly historic moment will be when Obama loses in Nov- after ALL HIS playing on guilt and using race as a shield from criticism and as as a sword to eviscerate his opponents.

    When he loses even though he is the democratic nominee- in a year that NO democrat should lose-

    When he loses… then we will know that democracy matters to democrats. That we will not allow Oprah and Caroline, Dean and Pelosi, The black congressional caucus and RAP stars, The media and Europeans to select our PRESIDENT FOR US.

    Then the NEW democrats will learn that you can not trash and insult and debase fellow democrats in crude, vulgar, filthy ways… and then still have them vote for your man- JUST BECAUSE DEMOCRATS WILL VOTE DEMOCRATIC EVEN AFTER BEING ABUSED BY THEIR PARTY.

    NOT going to happen. Women have learned that they do NOT have to and SHOULD NOT EVER return to the abuser.

    August 2, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. fafa

    I notice the last time that CNN keeps posting positive news about McCain. Is there some reason for that?

    August 2, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Jaime in Texas


    August 2, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  4. Barbara Campbell

    Anyone who can't understand what Senator Obama is saying here sees everything in black and white. America doesn't need anymore rigid, narrow-minded, dogmatic cowboys in the White House. We have far more complex problems now than those John Wayne tried to solve.

    August 2, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Independent Voter

    WONDERFUL! This guy must be wearing roller skates these days to get around.

    Gee, looks like America wants to drill, even though my purist friends say "no." But I want to get ELECTED!!!

    So, I better hurry up and take the same position as McCain.

    Now we will hear all about how this is what he really meant all along. That he would sacrifice anything for cooperation between the sharply divided parties.

    In my part of America, we call that giving in, changing your tune, reversing yourself – OR – oh, no! – FLIP FLOPPING!

    There has never been a clearer case of a guy with NO MORAL CENTER WHATEVER who just wants to get elected, playing to the crowd yet again!

    Personal Character? Obama? You can't be serious!

    August 2, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Marc PDX

    Obama defends offshore policy change? Is this change you can believe in? (Or is he simply inexperienced and unsure where he stands on issues?)

    August 2, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Marc PDX

    Jimmy Carter!

    August 2, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. vic nashville,Tn

    Sen. Obama There are so many reasons for not to support you but I have to tell you one reason that is
    Your are so greedy now

    August 2, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |

    Defend away oh great one but the fact is, you do not have the experience to Govern our Nation...

    Thats a fact.

    August 2, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Marc PDX

    Just a week ago Obama was claiming that domestic drilling would do nothing to help oil prices or availability. He scoffed, he mocked, and now he is "refining his position" now that a lot of democrats are starting to think that domestic drilling might be a good long term strategy (rather than doing nothing as we have for the past 30 years leading up to this mess).

    Flip-flop, flip-flop...

    August 2, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. JB

    Two things:

    First, if Congress really cared about the gas situaion, they would not have broke for 5 weeks without addressing it. What the R's did yesterday was bring light to the fact that Congress in general was willing to do nothing and let us go broke paying for transportation.

    Second, Senator Obama, there is no harm in saying, "I have done additional research, and have come to the conclusion that drilling may be a component to overcoming this crisis."

    I should be a campaign back office guy.

    We want a Pres who investigates and if need be changes his positions. Nobody get's it right on the first try EVERYTIME.

    August 2, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  12. Mike in Cincinnati

    Obama's move is consistent with what I expect of, and what I think we need from, our next president. We have had at least 8 years of political gridlock in this country. Contrary to what his opponents will say, Obama is NOT an ideologue. He is pragmatic, willing to work across the aisle, willing to form compromise, in order to get a consensus built and get us moving constructively toward solutions.

    I don't see him giving away his principles on this at all. I see him as being willing to work for constructive solutions, even IN SPITE of the potential political consequences it could have in the campaign.

    He is showing again the intellect, the judgment, and the qualities that will make him an excellent president come January.

    August 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Naomi, Texas

    I don't fault Obama for changing his mind... Let's face it folks. We all change our minds... Don't we all wish Bush had changed his mind about entering Iraq instead of going to Afghnistan for the real enemy in Bin Laden? Sometimes strength is shown in acknowledging that a change in stance is necesarry. Bush was stubborn about going to fight the wrong war, did that make him a good or strong leader?

    August 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. boomer babe for Obama

    The Republicans are now claiming that they’ve always been for alternative energy, when the facts show that they’ve used subsidies, tax breaks, and favorable legislation to enhance the profits of the oil, coal, and nuclear industries – big GOP donors – at the expense of wind and solar.

    August 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    I agree with Sen. Obama. The thing is, that even if we started drilling today and ALL our coasts, we would not see the oil at our neighborhood pumps for at least 5-10 years. And even then, that would not affect the price of oil!



    August 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Marc PDX

    Flip-flop, flip-flop, Barack doesn't know a lot...

    August 2, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Ryan

    This guy can NEVER say he's wrong!! It's sickening!

    August 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Tammy - KCMO

    I have to say as a supporter of Obama I'm disappointed that he's willing to give in to the Republicans over this policy. I still won't vote for McCain anymore than I would vote for Clinton but I will be taking a look at other 3rd party candidates and their policies to see if there is anyone better out there.
    In my book this makes him look weak and I think his strategizers made a big mistake on this one.
    People need to quit whining, quit being so selfish, suck it up and start conserving. There is no endless supply to gas. It's going to run out sooner or later and we need to come up with alternative ideas before that happens. By giving in on this topic it just delays the process because Americans seem to only be concerned with the here and now and not the future.

    August 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Obama supporter: Bipartisan Intelligence in Gov't

    A democracy and bipartisan politics is built on reaching a concensus and compromises that meets the needs of the voters and the people on a country.

    Gridlock and dictatorship is based on entrenched, inflexible positions. Surely this has been displyed over and over again in the past 7.5 years.

    If voters and the media actually READ what Obama is saying and don't resort to the oneliners and label compromise as a "flip flop" one will see that Obama's plan is a sensible approach.

    One wonders where McCain is on this. His reaction will show whether he is truly working towards "reaching across the partisan divide" or if he is obnly going to use this as another smaer effort to get elected.

    August 2, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. Mary In AL

    Senator Obama has put the best interest of America first in making decisions. If it takes compromise to get the things America needs, then it is an option to consider. I support Senator Obama fully!
    Obama 08

    August 2, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Joe Bob

    What about John McCain CNN? What about when McDumb changed his position on off-shore drilling w/in like a two months?

    Why didn't McCain's change in position get any media attention except on on the Daily Show?

    What the heck? You know CNN is supposed to be the liberal media, I just don't see it. I have not seen fair reporting when it comes to Obama. All I see is negative Obama reporting. CNN may as well be the next Fox news.

    Also, I work in gov't, what Obama said is correct, sometimes you have to compromise so you don't kill the good by fighting for the best. This is a very true statement about govt'. It's always about everyone coming to an agreement, and most of the time, no one is happy–that's when you know you got it right.

    This is ridiculous. Why is McCain not receiving any flack for his change?

    Obama has not really changed his position. He's talking about getting stuff done, something Bush hasn't been able to do.

    I am so tired of this.

    August 2, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. Kevin,FL

    Please Post!

    Obama is the worst flip flopper, he's 2x worst than Kerry, The DNC probably wondering what did we do, we should have gone with HRC, because its the DNC who chose Obama, the People Chose HRC

    August 2, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Flip-Flop

    Barack HUSSEIN Obama is drowning and he is trying to swim. So he'll FLIP-FLOP

    August 2, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. Evan, Columbus, OH

    Compromise is the center of democracy.

    There is no reason to bash him for being honest about it, anyone who has paid attention in the last eight years knows what happens when the President refuses to compromise.

    It is refreshing to see that someone running for President sees the reality of the situation. Seems more down to Earth than 'Messiah' to me.

    August 2, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  25. Deep

    Now McCain can't point fingers at Obama for that.

    Obama/Hillary 08.

    August 2, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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