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. Kris in LA

    I don't know whether to praise him for being open-minded to suggestions, or to criticize him for being a flip-flop like Kerry. I must say I did like Obama better during the Democratic primaries. He's exposing his naiveness way too often these days. But frankly, I'm not impressed with either of these two candidates.

    August 2, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Leon

    Good! No need to politicize the issue – we need the oil, it's there for the taking, lets leave those terrorist jerks high and dry.

    This is not about republican vs. democrat – it's about insuring our country has the resources we need.

    August 2, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. APS in Hawaii

    LOL. He attacked Hillary for this stand and now the king of flip-flops is clarifying his position again. If a person changes his position so many times now, how can I trust that person as President? Is this why the DNC picked Obama? For all of the Obama supporters, your candidate did not win the popular vote, the SUPER Delegates pushed him over the top. He LOST EVERY major state in the primaries. In other words, the DNC ELITISTS choose the nominee.

    August 2, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Michael

    It bothered me at first when I heard he would support offshore drilling, and I still don't like the idea, but I think he has a good point. If he's able to make some bipartisan effort to alleviate the gas prices, then I'll support it. It's too bad so many people are pushing for the off shore drilling when the government already has thousands of acres it could allow to be drilled. The other sad thing is soon all the neoconservatives are going to come out screaming, "Flip-flop, flip-flop," all the while ignoring how many changes McCain himself has made. I wish people could have a reasonable dialogue without getting so worked up or losing sight of the real issues.

    August 2, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. Chris from Baltimore

    Given the rhetoric, it seems that to some folks, any attempt at reaching a compromise is to be derided as "flip flopping."

    The curious thing is that these very same folks go on and on about a "do-nothing" government whose members are "unwilling to compromise."

    As the old saying goes, you often get the government you deserve.

    August 2, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Khushil

    Why is it so hard for people to understand Obama's position: its really very simple- Mandate that the oil companies use the untapped leased landt that they have 68MILLION acres- and IF nothing is found after that exploration, then allow for the expanision of drilling. But while that initial exploration is being conducted, government should encourage the discovery of alternative fuel technologies-

    August 2, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. ArtNYC

    Isn't this the guy that just two days ago said absolutely NO to offshore drilling. WAKE UP people, he's not what he says he is. New Politics, yeah right. He will say anything to get your votes folks. That's all he does is talk talk talk.

    Unbelievable that's he's made it so far and people are in love with him.

    August 2, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. raghu

    Typical hypocrisy from the King of Flip Flop- Barack O'Liar. Does this guy have any principles at all? Makes Nixon look like a saint.

    August 2, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  9. E2

    People are missing the point: Reaching across the aisle or bipartisanism doesn't mean you get all you want and the other party get nothing.

    Obama doesn't believe drilling the US oil reserve of 3% will dent the oil price at the current 25% US consumption of global oil. In fact, he believes by the time the local oil hits the market – the price would be over $10 per gallon and any price change would be only in cents.This is also mainly the Democrats' argument – of course plus destroying the environment.

    But McCain recently fell in love with drilling and joined the die hard Republicans who want oil anywhere there is a smell of it. That means you've a gridlock!

    When you get to that point – the losers are the American people.

    Now – why is it wrong to compromise so that at the end – it's the American people who win? I thoughts that what the Presidents are supposed to do. Win some – lose some! That's what we do in normal life – isn't it?

    I think those who love and hate Obama should know by now from his words: He thrives on "Sticks and Carots" sort of. Remember FISA bill, courting Iran to give up Uranium enrichment etc. That's how he believes things will get done.

    And like he said, if you don't like his ways of thinking – you can vote for NADER or run for Office yourself!!!!

    August 2, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Jess

    Obama changes his mind on YET another issue. But the worst part is, his whole point was that drilling wasn't going to accomplish anything, so why support "limited" drilling. If it's not going to help, DON'T DO IT. It is so hard to take anything obama says seriously.

    August 2, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Laura

    I was pretty critical of Obama for flip-flopping on FISA, but I don't see this as a flip flop. He is not endorsing offshore drilling, just saying that he won't use it as a litmus test for any energy bill that might contain other provisions that he supports, such as investment in alternative energy sources. Most energy bills are mix of good and bad and senators (and a president) have to decide if the good outweighs the bad.

    August 2, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Listen Up...

    Fair enough. Vote OBAMA!!

    August 2, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  13. Khushil

    Doesnt sound like a flip flop to me, sounds like someone is being realistic instead of proposing unrealistic black and white extremist solutions.
    Simple:1) make oil companies exhaust all exploration on their land
    2) If they dont find any oil- then allow for the expansion
    3) Be a realist and hedge your bets- have an alternative plan and dont be reliant on one idea, look for alternative fuels

    August 2, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. Will in Richmond, VA

    Compromise is part of working together. If neither side is willing to concede on any issue than we will always have gridlock. All avenues must be explored in order to provide a comprehensive plan for our future.

    Drilling in areas already leased to the oil companies is such a way. If offshore drilling can help even a little, WHILE we find alternative energy sources, then it should be considered.

    August 2, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Change change change , is this what he means....changing his mind every other day....

    August 2, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Kenneth M.

    I think he keeps forgeting how simple the country is. He explains too much. People what a person who will state there position, keep it until he is elected, and then change to what really needs to be done. Dont confuse the voters with to much facts.

    August 2, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. Kyle

    Enough of the Flip-Flop Charge for both Obama and McCain. We have democratic principles in this country and we are allowed to speak our individual mind to society. When society checks and rebuttals your ideas, you may come to a new realization. Therefore, you can change your mind with new evidence and reasons that make sense. Real, open-minded people who want to do the right thing do are capable and rightfully can do it. However, we do need the candidates to have a solid comprehensive plan by the convention and annouced at the event. Afterwards, they need to stick to it till the Election.

    August 2, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Rosemary Storaska

    OK, now this is a wee bit ridiculous. This man has NO positions on anything other than what is expedient for him at that very moment. I'll will give him this, he is about CHNAGE, CHANGING EVERYTHING IF IT DOES NOT SUIT HIS POLL NUMBERS. People are finally starting to get this man! Finally!

    Must Read, people: Obama Nation by Corsi, well researched and four stars on Get informed and you won't be surprised anymore by what this man does?

    August 2, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Keith

    The guy has never taken a stand on anything – except his desire for power. Change by itself means nothing –

    This guy is dangerous folks, really dangerous. Wake up !!

    August 2, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Independent in New Mexico

    I believe that the senator is showing good common sense in his energy policy. Off shore drilling is not the "cure all" for the high energy prices that driving the majority of Americans up the wall. It is a part of the long term answer though. As Americans we need to develop other sources of energy. Unfortunately, this will require that Americans will also have to lose their selfish attitude of " I should gain the benefit with out any whatsoever cost to myself" "No wind generator farms in MY view " (re. Recent developments off Cape Cod etc.).... And if technoligy allows coal to be used cleanly and efficently, take advantage of that. Enough of the "knee-jerk" reactions that have prevented refineries and nuclear power plants from being built while greater and greater demands are being made on the existant energy sources. There are no quick and easy "fixes" to the problems we face, any one who makes such claims is a liar, and those who believe it are fools.

    August 2, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Tom B.

    Obama is going to say anthing, or promise anything to be elected. He attended a church for 20+ years and then abandoned it because it got to be a liability to his campaign.

    August 2, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. w.l. jones

    Every body were a slave to somebody else at one time of another, but it were call serf for some. I see it today as a none isure so just find some more important thing to talk about like the economy which affecting most every. Have a bless day to all.

    August 2, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. victorhill

    MoeCain and his other two Stooges, need to take there circus act some where else!
    Sen. Bozo The Clown MoeCain
    Since Obama doesn't want to say it, I will.
    What A Bunch Of Clowns.
    Where Just Getting OurFunny On America!

    August 2, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. Machiavelli; Baton Rouge, LA

    If a Democrat changes his mind to represent the will of the people, Republicans like to paint them as flip-floppers. That is exactly why the Republican brand is in shambles today–because they refuse to honor the will of the people. However, they will cater to lobbbyists, special interests groups, and big business. Ask McCain if he does not take money from any of the aforementioned, and he will say that he does not want to talk about that right now.

    August 2, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. a southern bell for OBAMA














    August 2, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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