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. WhoWhat

    Obama has become a poll driven opportunist who will go as the wind blows to get elected. It would be refreshing to know what his stance really is. America are you ready to elect an enigma? I cannot.

    August 2, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Just add it to the list of Obama flip-flops:
    Offshore drilling
    Gun Control
    The surge
    public financing
    union contributions
    illegal immigration
    the fence with Mexico
    decriminalization of marijuana
    capital punishment
    Abortions permitted for mental distress
    faith based initiatives
    Rev. Wright
    His church
    his 'typical white person' grandmother
    What's next? Renaming his kids? This guy isn't even ready to follow, let alone being ready to lead.

    August 2, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Roi

    So what are the real numbers? How much oil have they found? How much would it cost to get it? What percentage of our imported oil would it replace? Where is it?How much do the oil companies expect in even more breaks? Who fixes the beaches and reefs? Lost fishing and tourism? Does anyone at CNN do any research or investigative reporting they would like to share? You know, try at least acting like a free press.

    Journalism bears a certain ethical responsibility.

    August 2, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Everyone that is saying that Obama flipped on this issue need to remember that McCain flipped first. And Obama is not pushing it like McCain is because he knows it is neither a short-term or long-term solution. He doesn't want us to take our eye of the ball of making sure we stop depending on oil – foreign or otherwise. We need to not be lulled into the idea that we are somehow doing all we can versus feverishly trying to find alternatives. If compromising on this point gets that done, so be it.

    August 2, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Don Fitzgerald

    It sure an easier answer, to attack some one, as a flip-flopper, than respond to his thoughtful reconsideration of his stance on a given issue. Any thoughtful politician will re-position himself on any important issue, if he is a thinking individual. Look at the tragedy that is in play in Iraq, at the moment, all because of a Republican administration not wanting to reconsider their position on the occupation of Iraq and her Oil Fields. That is what happens when a politician locks himself into any given position and will not re-evaluate their position. It has tragic consequences. "Flip- Flop" is the same nonsensical as the " Commie " attacks were. Meaningless words used to try to belittle or smear someone. Unfortunately, that is all Senator McCain and the Republicans have to offer America. Let's get rid of the vast majority of the Republicans. they haven't earned the privilege to be reelected to anything, not even, dog-catcher.

    August 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Cathie Brown

    I hope Obama continues to stand up against oil drilling. Stop the war, and put those resources to use to get alternative sources of energy out to the people. There's millions of acres of land already approved to be drilled and the oil company's not drilling on them. This is just a campaign issue that Republican's think they can use to turn voters against the Democrats. Let's use our brains and move forward, not backwards – Obama can get us on the right track. All McCain is doing is attempting to undermine Obama at the country's expense and attempting to put more more billions & billions of dollars in the big oil company's'pockets – I wonder how much in contributions McCain gets from big oil? I believe, if I remember correctly, that candidates can't accept campaign contributions of oil companies, but I'll bet he's getting plenty of money from their execs. This country has to change.

    August 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Armanius

    "This wasn't a new position"????

    While I think Obama made the right choice to support offshore drilling as part of a comprehensive energy policy, why can't he just admit that he changed his mind? What's so horrible about changing position if it's the right thing to do? I want a president who is flexible, and will change his position if he or she realizes that the change is indeed the best way to resolve a problem. For a candidate who is using the word "change" as his standard, Obama's fear of admitting that he has changed positions in several issues is downright ridiculous. Just explain to the American people why you are changing your position, Obama. People will understand as long as there is a reasonable explanation, as opposed to political expediency.

    August 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. mountain man

    Wow I can't find one issue the senator actually stands for. Obama seems to be changing his positions daily.

    August 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. Bo, Dc

    Obama suggest diplomacy, and McCain attacks him for it. This is starting to get McCain.

    August 2, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Anthony F.

    Flip floppng, as well as the predicable dirty trick, underhanded campaigning of the Republican Party, will make the campaign of Obama a very difficult task.
    CNN, through the efforts of the "Lou Dobbs team," are contributing to Obama's troubles, through CNN's obvious support and prefernce for McCain.
    I can understand CNN 's partiality, since Obama's plan to tax those earning over $200,000 "more fairly" will effect their [CNN newscasters], wallets.
    The US will have another 8 years of Bush, through McCain, and the US will further decline, both domestically and internationally.

    August 2, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. joe

    " read my lips, no new taxes"! does anyone actually believe anything that ANY politician says!? if so, you are probably 1 of the 25% that thinks bush is a good president! voting another yes man into office will do nothing but continue to make the U.S. into a 3rd world country! what have they done to enforce the constitution against the present administration! NOTHING!! another election will solve nothing.. we need to totally scrap our foreign policies and keep tax dollars here or withhold the money until we are properly represented! is anybody listening?

    August 2, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. CAW in MD

    Finally, a candidate who gets it. If all we're doing is drilling for oil, then that's a sure way to failure. If we drill for oil a part of a comprehensive plan that includes nuclear, wind, and solar power with the goal of either greatly reducing or completely ending our dependence on foreign oil, then that's a vision worth pursuing. I look forward to Obama putting out this plan. It's sure that McCain won't.

    August 2, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. Miami Beach

    He is ridiculous. I am a staunch Democrat who finds Obama's flip-flopping repulsive. He will do anything to get votes.

    August 2, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Angel Mires

    He sees his numbers starting to go down in the polls and now he wants to re-think off-shore drilling? This guy really does just go with the wind. i am now starting to see who THE ONE really is. He will do anything to get votes it seems.

    August 2, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Fred C Dobbs

    A flip by any other name is still a flop.

    Trust us, Senator Obama, we know the goods when we see them and your not the goods!

    August 2, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. GoHillary

    Another flip flop from BO! How could he possibly answer that call at 3am? Hillary was right all along.

    The Messiah has mis-spoken!

    August 2, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Interested Canadian

    As someone who has been following your election issues very closely, I am happy to see that Obama is considering drilling offshore. As long as you will be driving automobiles for a considerable length of time, it is folish of any one to exclude domestic oil production in the equation. I have not been thrilled by McCain's campaign but his reversal on offshore drilling would have given Obama a similar cover. He did not have to waite until the Republicans shamed him into making a similar 180 degree turn. Obama is still right to oppose gas tax holidays because that is pure pandering and very false approach to your energy prices. We actually pay more for gasoline here in Canada than you folks do in the USA.

    August 2, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. Mike - Texas

    i support obama, and i think we should consider offshore oil drilling.

    personally, i'm not convinced that offshore oil drilling will have any effect at all on gas prices, but the job of the president, and any elected official for that matter, is to abide by the will of the people.

    and right now, whether drilling will work or not, the majority of the people are in favor of it.

    it's good that obama isn't so stubborn that he would ignore a shift in the will of the people, like bush did concerning iraq.

    August 2, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Lisa

    Good! As a Democrat, Im happy. I was thinking the same thing. Only a person who is willing to meet halfway on tough issues is capable of being our president.

    Half way on drilling off coast and ANWAR OFF LIMITS

    and a partial windfall profits tax. Everyone is satisfied.

    Drilling oil will help us in 7-10 years and a small windfall tax will help us NOW!

    Does it take Barack Obama to solve these problems?

    Maybe we need 100 Barack Obamas' in Congress to finally get things done!

    August 2, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Dena

    As much as Democrats hate it, drilling is part of the solution. It is not the solution. I think everything needs to be on the table, including wind, solar, nuclear, and anything else that is viable.

    I knew Obama would have to put the drilling on the table.

    August 2, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. ExDem

    proves what a panderer he is.


    August 2, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Gunar

    Realize this...Oil take 7-10 years to get from the ground and then to us. Obama will be exiting his second term by the time this "answer" to our energy problems even makes a difference. The real answer is to not stand down, protect our oceans, and use the energy from the sun and wind. McCain wants NUCLEAR!?! 3mile island...Chernobyl... NO THANKS! Obama must not accept any plan that requires any type of off shore drilling, if he does he is a coward and doesnt truly push for CHANGE. he would be doing what any politician willing to win would do.
    GREEN 08

    August 2, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  23. hate drove us away

    Hey CNN- how many ticker items for Obama are you going to post?

    You are still pretending Obama is the president already.

    The more pro-Obama adulation and adoration... the fewer pro-Obama votes.

    August 2, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Edu Minnesota

    I believe the ofshore drilling is not the sole answer to rising gas price. I see the whole idea as capitalist greed. the oil companies have leases they have not exploited, yet they are asking for more leases offshore. What about the leases they have already? What about the oil fields they simply capped? Why can't they focus on these lease and drill them without asking for new leases? If there are hinderances to exploiting these existing leases; why can't they work on removing those hinderances and start immediately to drill what they already have? I believe those oil companies and John MCcain are playing games on us. Besides, New leases today will take about 8 10 years to hit the market. So, how will that impact the oil prices now? I buy Obama's call for a comprehensive energy policy that will save us from the grip of oil companies and dependence on oil. I believe we have the capacity and the technology to develop alternative energy resources that will hit the market in fewer years than oil drilling and free us from dependence on oil. MCain should stop decieving us with false hope of lowering gas prices with more oil drilling.

    August 2, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Will-18

    Obama is spot on. Promises were made during the 1970's in relation to the same issues today, for creating the oil fields ports, terminals and Alaska pipeline. Yet those promises have yet to be fulfilled. The Alaska pipe line has been running at no more than 55% of capacity because of maintenance issues for the past seven year. Lastly half the oil coming out of the pipeline goes to Japan, under an 1955-58 treaty. So Obama is right in making sure that U.S. Off shore crude comes to the U.S. markets as a solution to our energy needs.

    August 2, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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