August 2nd, 2008
02:21 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama says offshore drilling stance nothing new

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="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. yns

    "I'm a fish... watch me FLIP-FLOP-FLIP-FLOP-FLIP-FLOP......"

    August 2, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Shotta Nic

    The worst part of this whole thing is that people will see this is a flip flop. Everybody wants to get their own way in politics. There seems to be no room for compromise.

    CHANGE = new politics = ability to listen and compromise while maintaining values = get more things done

    Its just too bad people are too wrapped in their own parties and own opinions to understand this. A true leader has the ability take suggestions and opinions from others and make an educated decision. This is why I will vote for Obama.

    August 2, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. pam Eugene OR

    Obama is responding to what the voters are saying. 70% of Americans say they want off shore drilling. He would be a fool not to listen to that many people. He also states that we must have a comprehensive plan in place in place for him to support this.

    August 2, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. vote out dems

    Im so very tired of obamas'as i have always said' he really is a fraud, and unhealthy for this country. vote out the socialist party.

    August 2, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. Scott L


    If that is not a flip flop, I don't know what is.

    Pelosi is gonna be HOT on him. He basically just threw the Democratic party under the bus.

    Too bad they aren't in session. Looks like he threw african americans under the bus as well with his slavery reparation comments. This just goes to prove my theory that he doesn't want the presidency, just wants to do the book and speech circuit after and make one billlllion dollars!

    August 2, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Chris from NY

    I don't even care how they make it better. All I care about is driving my car with lesser consequence at the pump and from my pocket.

    August 2, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Joseph Turick

    Add this American to the long list of those that want Pelosi and Reid to get off their high horse and listen to the American people. Sure over time progress will be made on alternative means of energy such as windpower. But cars and trucks will need gasoline and oil; homes that use oil as a fuel need oil. Only an idiot cannot recognize that we want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Now is the time to act, not 5-10 years from now. I pray that many going to the polls at election time take all this into consideration and vote or the democrats.

    August 2, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. Kathy

    He did not change positions on anything. The only thing he said about off-shore drilling is he would be willing to make a bi-partisan decisions. When you are president you have to be willing to make bi-partisan decisions. You have to be able to negotiate with the other side to solve problems. If he says no to everything and won't compromise, problems won't be solved. If he is willing to negotiate with republicans on approving off-shore drilling in areas where he thinks won't hurt our environment and in return they approve a 150 billion investment plan on alternative energy, which Senator Obama proposes, than that’s how we will solve problems in this great country, by compromising on certain issues. That’s how we will move this country forward.

    August 2, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Michelle

    HIs flip-flops are "nothing new."

    Surprise, surprise! Obama bails again:
    "Obama backs away from McCain's debate challenge"

    August 2, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Independent Voter, MI

    It's nice to see that someone in DC is willing to make compromises to get things done.

    We need more leadership not stubbornness.

    August 2, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  11. Scott, Phoenix

    Wait! who's that walking down the street...OH MY GOD It's Obama and listen to the changing shuffle of his feet..flip-flip, flip-flop, flip-flop!

    August 2, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Ron Christman

    I have been an Obama supporter since he announced for many reasons. One of the most important is that he consistently has stated that he will listen to all sides and work to come up with the best solution possible in a bipartisan way. Again, he has demonstrated that kind of thinking with this position on the energy crisis. Clearly this the kind of leadership that we need.

    August 2, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Big D

    Sigh – does it matter anymore whether Obama is consistent? McCain will claim that he's flip-flopping no matter what he says. Obama's critics will echo that and scream about how you can't trust him. The media will repeat it again and again. And no-one will really analyze Obama's statements and conclude that they're essentially unchanged. And absolutely no-one will critically analyze McCain's all-over-the-map statements and recognize the randomness and pandering in his statements. But Obama's will be ripped to shreds undeservedly. Again. And again.

    August 2, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. Sparky

    Polls do not mean a thing in this election. A true leader knows you have to compromise in order to get things done. A President Obama could get more things accomplished than a President McCain.

    August 2, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. BHO FTL

    Obama, you also said drilling for Oil wont help our current situation, because we wont have it for 10 years... I think this is what people think you flipflopped about... because it was OUTRIGHT WRONG...

    August 2, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. Bob

    It is shocking at how Senator Obama can say one thing one day, completely reverse his position the next but declare convincingly to the naive electorate that his position remains the same. This guy is a politician with a capital "P".

    August 2, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. fooled the sheople but not the people

    And still the fools fall for Obama.

    August 2, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. Linda in Ruther Glen, Va

    Off shore drilling is not the whole answer to our energy crisis, this is a no brainer. We need many kinds of energy and we need to wean ourselves away from the amount of oil we use today.

    August 2, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. David E

    Flip flop. Wow he is making it easier and easier to vote for a third party candidate or write in. Politics as usual.

    August 2, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. Rocky

    I for one am glad to hear it. I just hope both these candidates mean what they say since they apposed drilling before. I also agree that drilling is only part of the solution, but for now it only makes sense. Now we will see if Obama has enough pull to convince Pelosi and the other hardliners in the party to allow a vote.

    August 2, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. bulldog

    Obama has always said he as well as Congressmen from the other side of the aisle that he is able to work across party lines. Saying offshore drilling would be ok if it is included in an overall comprehensive energy plan to help hard working Americans is "working across party lines". From many comments coming from the McCain supporters and Republicans they are just proving that it doesn't matter what Obama says, they will attack, attack, attack. If he stands hard and firm they attack and if he tries to compromise they attack. That is the exact type of attitude that is wrong with Washington. Rather than try to work together and compromise on some issues they choose just attack each other while nothing gets done. At least Obama's approach can get something done that will help the Americans who are suffering.

    August 2, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. CL OT

    Change you can count on. At least his positions. The good thing is that he is finally on the right side. Lets see what tomorrow brings.

    August 2, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. PUMA-Jessie

    Obama is a serial flip flopper. He will do or say anything he thinks you want to hear to get your vote, He has flipped on FISA, abortion, gun control, public election finance, the social security tax and now on energy, plus there are others. Its starting to show up in the polls. The daily Gallup now has the race in an exact tie 44 to 44% and one other has McCain up by 2 points. This is somewhere between an 8 to 10 point turn around in the past ten days. Wow!

    August 2, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Keith

    Wow, Obama's changed his position on an issue based on the polls! As if that isn't the first time he's flip-flopped on the campaign trail... Good job on covering this accurately CNN!

    Of course, you should also have an article on the lights out protest on The Hill, but you can't cover everything I suppose...

    August 2, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. Phantom of the Oprah

    The so called intelligent people were fooled by Obama.

    The so-called ignorant people saw the con artist for what e is.


    The least qualified was installed as nominee and we all have to live with that travesty of justice...

    or NOT....

    August 2, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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