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. eam

    yes of course it's not a change in positions, cause he never does anything wrong. thank god for obama he just sooooo perfect. he wil save us all. and at the same time give all our money away to other countries through his world poverty act. i really do think he is satan. but i guess the blind will follow him anyways. oh well what can we do about the stupid but them be stupid.

    August 2, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Democrats for media accountability

    Okay, this is the third time I have written a comment and the topic has been deleted, one more and I boycott you CNN.

    Obama is perfectly right. This is not some Policy Shift or Change as the media seems to pigeonhole. Obama does not think offshore drilling will do anything, and it won't, but the gridlock must be broken so that real reform can go through.

    August 2, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Clinton Zumbado

    As a Democrat, I'm very disappointed in Senator Obama's willingness to allow any new offshore drilling. Nonetheless, I'll still vote for him, but now with much less enthusiasm.

    August 2, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. Fabian Blache IIi

    I am tired of the tendency for people to cast a "Flip-Flop" label. Responsible leaders take into consideration all of the facts and information as they define and refine policy positions.

    The variables of a situation can change. If any one is really paying attention to what Senator Obama says, they would notice that his positions are laced with substantive and purposeful caveats. He is cautious to make certain that he prefaces his remarks with an "if" before he offers the "then".

    He has repeatedly said that if offshore dilling is the only thing that is being offered up to solve the gas price crisis it is a rouse. He has also said that there is a need to address why so many areas of leased land have not been prospected and drilled for oil. His concern is that the oil companies are only seeking to use the idea of off-shore dilling as a way to secure more leases and therefore consume more territory.

    Obama does not want us to relent to these tactics out of fear, but rather consider certain locations for drilling if coupled with other sound provisions and safe-guards. The RNC needs to get a grip and find a new playbook. The American public is not so ignorant to fall for the same tactics twice, and the Obama campaign has been very forthcoming about clarifying their message when the RNC machine does everything in their power to muddy it up.

    Look at it this way, McCain denies when he shifts position, Obama explains why it might be necessary to consider something potentially viable. McCain ousts people who don't agree with him when they rear their heads at his speeches, Obama engages them and then gives them their say, despite the fact they are seated right over his shoulder.

    McCain says he is going to run a campaign on the issues and then panders to the RNC and runs a Rove-like operation that only focuses on trying to make the other guy look bad.

    This election is seriously a no-brainer for me. McCain has lost a great deal of respect.

    August 2, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. lou

    The senator has 'railed' against using off shore drilling as the only way to respond to our energy crisis. McCain hasn't offered anything more...Obama has always said that can't be the only answer...that we need to do other things as well. Geez...don't you guys have any of his past statements on file? It' wouldn't be that hard to tell it like it is.

    August 2, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Dave

    WOW FLIP FLOP OBAMA!!! This guy is a total racist liar. Hillary had this guy pegged right from the beginning. He is a waste of perfectly good oxygen. You can not beleive a word out of his mouth. 100% politician.

    Hillary supporter
    McCain 08

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

    Of course it makes sense to offer such a compromise to the Republicans who wouldn't dare do anything for the planet out of sheer goodwill, but instead have to make their oil buddies more money.

    I don't begrudge Barack making the concession, however, I just wish CNN wouldn't attempt to frame his position as a flip-flop to engage the audience.

    August 2, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. WhiteEntrepreneurPatriot

    Don't you people get it? Gasoline is just about obsolete at this point! Oil as fuel is just about obsolete! It would take more than a decade for any new oil wells to lower the price of gasoline. Can you wait ten yeas for getting around to cost less than it does now? I can't! And even if we did drill for more oil, burning it would just cause more dramatic climate shifts than we're facing now! The oil companies have to suck it up and face reality: their old business model is dying, and they need to embrace newer technologies. At least if we invest in those, we'll see a return on our investment within a few years, and we won't be diggin a deeper hole to climb out of in the process.

    August 2, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Rich in Seattle

    You mean using common sense to govern? But, we're use to politics being a big game of all or nothing with a clear winner and loser. If we start being practical now, well, where is the fun in that. I mean, look where playing games has gotten us.

    To be serious, why would this country want to continue on the same path we've gone down for the past seven years. Aren't we tired of this?

    August 2, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. William Courtland, Earth

    If you are going to find oil, it will only be on those shallow shelves in the oceans which could have been above water during the Ice Ages, that which would contain water sheds or swamps.

    The most oceans offer is Natural Gas and Coal as sea life breaks down in a much different manner than the life on land.

    Natural gas is man power flight.

    A boat: which has a blimp above it.
    The blimp uses ionizing energy matrix to gain acceleration in the atmophere.
    The power source for the blimp is on the boat.
    The blimp lifts the boats sails.
    With enough velocity the boat will go airborn and rest on the cushion of air formed underneith a large wing.
    The boat uses force water propulsion when in the water.
    The blimp and upper sails can meet the boat and seal around the deck and so create a floating/submersible while the balast tanks acctually prevent the boats flight as opposed to allowing its descent under the waves.

    These are smaller pleasure craft.

    Natural gas provides an easy source for Helium and Hydrogen from The American reserve or the Russian reserve respectively.

    Internal cumbustion is coals duty, oil is lubrication and plastics. Trains used to burn coal. Electricity powers individual small land vehicles.

    Marijuana is a substance which allows those without dutiful work the ability to remain patient, but this is in a world imperfect, the more perfect happiness only uses marijuana for smoking the snakes which threatened family or friend.

    Apprentices should begin to learn their craft at age twelve, but when college replaces the skills learned by the apprentice, one is thrity before a trade is honestly begun. Someone is stalling advancement because of their own insidious natures.

    August 2, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. Peter E

    First he says NAFTA needs to be overturned, then he says it just needs to be 'fixed.' First he criticizes his opposition of not wanting to leave Iraq, but then says, on his own website that we'd still be keeping military there to 'hunt Al Quaeda.' First he says he would never vote for the TELECOM bill, then he becomes one of few democrats to vote for it, retroactively legalizing Bush's illegal domestic spying. First he criticizes his opponent for offshore drilling, now he takes it up as if the same idea from him is visionary.
    The list of promises about bringing 'change' is growing shorter and shorter...

    August 2, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Peter E

    Of course he supports off-shore drilling NOW... he finally looked at the polls and saw that over 70% of Americans also support it... so now he has to spin it as if it was his visionary idea in the first place.

    August 2, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. C from Texas


    This guy changes his stance on issues daily. Wonder what's next????

    He's been against Off-shore drilling since day ONE, now he's trying to say he's for it but also against it. Obama only says what he says to get elected, this is how he beat out H. Clinton (and NO I don't support her and never did). This is good for McCain because more people will see this. The Dems made a mistake by not picking H. Clinton, at least she would had held her ground.
    Good for us because McCain will be in the White House. Bring on the debates, this is going to be good.

    McCain '08

    August 2, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Barry In Las Vegas

    This is the man of change? Every day he shows he is just another political hack that sticks his finger in the wind to find out which way it is blowing – the puts his back to the wind.

    The only thing audacious about Obama is he whenever he flip flops he tries to make us beleive he hasn't changed his position and his favorite line is "You haven't been listing to me."

    Well we are listening and he flip flopped again.

    August 2, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  15. Jim

    Of course he flip flopped over digging. The poll numbers showed he is loosing this argument. Typical politician. Nothing gets done except in an election year when they all run with their tails between there legs. As a demacrat i am outraged he oposes digging to get morer oil. Time is wasting while they argue over it all mean while we are stuck in foriegn countrys dying for the price of oil.

    August 2, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. mb--texas

    Obama keep up the good work.The other campaign just wants to have fun when every thing should be serious about higher prices
    and 51,000 jobs lost in July I am sure the American people that
    lost their jobs are wondering where their next paycheck is coming from.Comprise on off shore if need be so be it .You really do not know where McCain will be tomorrow.Maybe since he wants to be a comedian he will take Leno place when he leaves NBC.

    August 2, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. norml

    of course.a good politician is flexible,and must work with everyone on our problems.things change fast these days and we need obama's foresight and intelligence as well as organizational abilities,and flexibility to make things work for everyone.personally,i think off-shore oil-drilling will just contribute to our quickly deteriorating environment.but,if you folks dont mind oil slicks on florida beaches,go ahead.who would want to go there,anyway?

    August 2, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Greg, NY

    I don't understand the flip flopping thing.

    Don't we want a leader that listens to the people and advisors and goes with the best idea? We've had a stubborn leader for 8 years and see where that got us.

    Changing positions isn't a weakness, it's a strength.

    August 2, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Matt

    Hmm go figure an approach which includes all methods of trying to reduce our independence, which John McCain originally proposed

    August 2, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. I'm Irish

    I'll tell you what – when the British cut my check for my reparations, I'll give 10% for African-American reparations. Til then – get lost.

    August 2, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Flippy McFlopperson

    Is it possible for him to change stances more?
    This guy can't make his mind up, and you people want him to lead our country?
    He should select a coin for his VP, so he can flip it, to make decisions for him.

    August 2, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. William Courtland, Earth

    My problem is Marijuana is now going to kill me if I do not get to work, or it will make me arrested by that insidious intent for death had by those hypnotists who understond their own guilt complex in the early 19th century.

    Prison creates violent criminals of these innocent and raptured people, and prison riots start this way.

    Craving marijuana is a bad sign that humanity is treated like a thrawl to hypnosis.

    August 2, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. ChrisD

    This guy is so fake. Dems cannot vote for this guy, we must vote for McCain and wait for Hillary in 2012.

    August 2, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. Former g.o.p.

    If you think mccain can lower gas prices, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I just listed on E-Bay.

    August 2, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. No

    Does Barack Obama stand for anything?

    First he said he would filibuster any bill that gives legal immunity to phone companies who aided the government in violating the Constitution by conducting warrantless wiretaps. Then he votes for it.

    Then it he backtracked on getting out of Iraq and has mirrored McCain's position.

    Now this for offshore drilling. Barack Obama does not seem to understand that there is no supply problem. There first problem is there is a weak dollar. The second problem is the Republican party. They opened the oil market to speculators a few years back, and as long as they can protect their money by investing in crude, they will.

    Obama lost my support when he sanctioned violating the Constitution. I was an ardent supporter, VOLUNTEER and two-time donater. I demanded a refund of my donations (and received it) and removed myself from the campaign mailing list.

    This latest action just goes to show a pattern has emerged. I will never vote for Obama, McCain or Hillary. They are all the same.

    August 2, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
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