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. Auntie Coosa, Blairsville, Georgia, USofA

    What'd Barry O have for breakfast?


    August 2, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Testing 1 2 3

    CNN 4 Article for 8-2 -08 no Comments HUH!!

    August 2, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |








    August 2, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. jason, tx

    Obama is a very smart leader. Why would people not want him to be our president?!

    August 2, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. The Independent One

    Obaaaaaaaaaamaaaa?! Dude.......please stop flip flopping. You are moving to the center way too much! No one is going to trust you......just like Bill. Are you trying to become Bill Clinton? I am going to vote for you because I hate McCain....because he's pretty much the worst candidate I have ever seen. But what happened Obama? What happened to NAFTA and FISA? What happened to not getting into "the same old Washington game?" You beat Hillary Clinton because you stood your ground, and when people heard you talk in interviews, you sound like such a down to earth person. You're looking more and more like regular politician everyday! Please get a hold of yourself man! Remember our constitution! Eliminate FISA, eliminate the "Patriot" Act. We need you to restore accountability and credibility to the White House! If you don't do that then (even being the lesser of two evils) you'll still be a sad and weak president.

    August 2, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. heartlight 3, Maui, HI

    It's too bad we are so short sighted. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble if we considered potential consequences.

    August 2, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. LatinosforMcCain

    Obama is noting but a empty suit!!!!

    He is nothing but a ONION cry cry cry!!!

    This man is whack big time!!!

    Latinos for McCain 08

    August 2, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Reggie

    This makes perfect sense to me. it is unrealistic for one party to think they will get everything they want and the other party will get nothing. all ideas should be on the table. We should consider nuclear, oil drilling, wind, solar, etc. For those that think drilling itself is the answer you are fools. For those that think wind and solar are the answer you are fools.

    August 2, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack, (forgot to add my name and place)

    glad he change. It shows that he does change and compromise and does not expect only others to change. But it is clear that his change or compromise will not change high gas prices. So republicans cannot make people believe that Obama changed because they were right. In their minds they are right because that's the only thing they can come up with! Obama understands that wall street must have some level of responsibilities by asking them some taxes on their oil profits. Wall street will not exist if main street disappear and vice versa! Obama understands that we need cooperation and compromise from both sides, from wall street to main street and a transparent and efficient government structures and programmes for health, education, environment on top of having confidence on companies and people's innovation to get out of this mess!

    Diane Dagenais Turbide
    Quebec, Canada

    August 2, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. bumble bee

    An energy policy is going to be key for both of the candidates. There are 90 days left in this presidential race and Obama's position gets more and more unclear.

    August 2, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. loretta hall

    When is everyone going to see this flip flopper does not know what he wants. He needs to worry what the American people want and need. His entire campaign is self centered. Sorry people but that is how I see him.

    August 2, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. JMaier, Fairbanks, Alaska

    I will not vote for a candidate who supports offshore drilling for fossil fuels. I further cannot trust someone who supports the fable that offshore drilling will help lower American gas prices. It is way past time that we Americans broke the oil addiction and went to renewable energy sources. We can be leaders in this effort or be forced to do it in the long run anyway. I wish Al Gore were running.

    August 2, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. dEMOBRAT

    Now we get what you meant by "change" Obama!

    August 2, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. rob

    Go McCain, you are right the "all of the above strategy" is the absloute right one. We must produce more energy domestically including oil drilling, more nuclear power and nateral gas for running our cars while developing viable alternatives.

    Obama has buried himself too deep against drilling and we never him even say the words nuclear power. Most of the his plans involve technologies that will take decades to be effective.

    Since the polls now suggest the american people want to produce our own energy it will be interesting to see how Obama will use rhetorical twisting while he flip-flops on the issue. He'll probably do what he has done recently on issues like Iraq and Iran, he will restate the policies allready in place by the Bush administration and call them his own and the pundits will call him brilliant.

    August 2, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. Bosworth

    He unambiguously said "absolutely not" to offshore drilling of any kind; and in sarcastic rhetoric in order to underscore this certainty. "Compromise" or not, he is now at best tentatively saying "maybe" to offshore drilling. Of course, when polls continue to show popular support, this "maybe" will undoubtedly turn into "yes" on offshore drilling. "Maybe" is NOT the same thing at all as "absolutely not." This is a blatant, awkward flip-flop, no matter how hard he tries to make it sound like it has "always" been his policy.

    I don't mind the shift. Flip-flopping is a part of the process. Political candidates have a lot of different interests to appeal to on the road to the Presidency. Sometimes, you're going to have to say one thing to one group and something else to the other group. In a way, this raises Obama's stock – now, he's just a plain old, human politician, and not a deified demagogue. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather support a human to be POTUS, instead of worshipping in a personality cult.

    Still, this WAS a pretty big flip-flop. This isn't just "refining" a position on some vague withdrawal plan from Iraq. This topic was pretty simply; "you're either for it, or you're against it." Kinda of a big deal, doncha think?

    August 2, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. Robert New York City & Miami, Florida

    This flip flopper flips more than Flipper.

    August 2, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Jeff

    Politics is compromise. What's the news here?

    August 2, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. BK

    I applaud Obama for this decision to CONSIDER off-shore drilling. His stances are just like mine. I don't want off-shore drilling, but if it is part of an OVERALL energy plan which includes plans to ween the country off its dependence of oil then I can accept it. The uneducated people in this country think they can have it all one way and not make concessions. That's why Congress hasn't done anything the past few years because no one is willing to make concessions. This is the kind of leader we need.

    Obama '08

    August 2, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  19. Melanie Jones

    The gang of 10 compromise is the way to go. McCain flipped on the issue a few weeks ago anyway. It takes drilling off of the table. I hope Obama now drives home the gang of 10 compromise. McCain can't do too much to with position. Because he also he also flipped on the same issue, and it's not considered a flop if you flip on the side of the people.

    Hopefully, Obama will drive home the need to support the compromise.

    Obama wants keep oil for domestic use
    Obama wants the people of the coastal states to share in the oil wealth
    Obama wants the people of the coastal state to have a say in the matter
    Obama to make sure that strong proactive alternative methods invested

    Good for you Barrack.

    August 2, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Sheople yes, people no so much.

    Fools will follow the mighty Obama.

    The intelligent people see right through his propaganda.

    August 2, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Marj,Paso Robles, Cal

    You are only for it because McCain has now caught you in the polls. Go away, Uhbama.

    August 2, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. sarah

    can you say hypocritical liar?

    August 2, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. Robert

    Obama is a liar and a flip flopper! I will NEVER vote for you!

    August 2, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. ikakoo


    August 2, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. by your hate are we divided now

    Who started the rumor that the Obama supporters were intelligent, educated and sophisticated?

    ANYthing but....

    Smart people never would have fallen for the strategy of hating other democrats into voting for the lesser candidate you forced on them by threats and name calling.

    Smart people would have seen that would backfire. The insulted, trashed, bashed, mocked, demeaned, coerced, dismissed and marginalized will not vote for those who treated them with so little respect.

    I guess we stupid people vote on issues and for the candidate- we don't just look for the lever labeled "D" and mindlessly pull it.

    Beware of all the women scorned- the life blood of the democratic party... bled out by the sexist, gender bias and filthy vulgar attacks on HILL and all women.

    August 2, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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