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. ginger

    Obama's recent statement in support of drilling is another one of his moves to regain his momentum. He has been quoted as saying he favored high prices on gas,just not rising as fast as it has.He is plainly in with the green movement because the revenues will fund the Reparations he plans

    August 2, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Senior female

    I am a tree hugger delux but I get the message T. Boone Pickens is trying to deliver. We better get it on a stick and quit arguing about it, and oh yah, much as I love Al Gore he needs to get on board too. At least Pickens HAS a plan !!

    August 2, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Phantom of the Oprah

    So much for the simplistic strategy: divide and conquer.

    Eliminate the only qualified candidate- Hillary Clinton- and the rest is easy.

    With the best candidate out of the picture, even the one-eyed man can be king- this year, in this climate, with the Nation is the sorry state that it is in.

    Obama can sleep walk his way to the presidency.
    Yeah right.

    In this all important year- swiftboat your best to install your worst- and then force all democrats to vote for the one they do not trust or believe in.

    Great strategy. Way to go DNC. At least African Americans are happy. That's what counts after all.

    August 2, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. Willy

    Hold up your finger, which way the winds blows so does Obama.

    August 2, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Christopher Mathis

    We need a balanced approach. Obama will make and excellent President because he is willing to compromise his position to acheive results for the people. (Pity Bush never learned that) Long term he is absolutely right. We cannot drill our way out of the oil problem. We have had 2 oil men in the WHouse for the last 8 years and the situation is more than ever.

    We need to invest in alterante forms of energy (30 yrs ago when Carter said it!) NOW.

    August 2, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. Media darling

    Here's a thought: Obama could NOT run on merits (he has yet to DO anything in any office he's been elected to)… so he ran on his color.

    Race is always a safe bet… you can always allege racism.

    August 2, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Latinos for Obama

    Obama's statement makes sense. Off shore drilling alone is not the sole solution. There needs to be other alternatives to the energy crisis. Obama's willingness to COMPROMISE is what we need in our future President.

    August 2, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Proud American

    A vote for Obama is a vote for common sense.
    Obama '08

    August 2, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |

    If those americans who are in favor of drilling want the country to drill, let have a referendum and if the majority wins then let's drill and pay the price of pollution later, and see when gas price will come down to $2.
    We don't like to adjust the way we live, we like to live large and blame other people. Gas companies and foreign countries are making huge amounts of profits, the only person to blame here will be Obama dixit Mc Cain?What has Bush done in 8 years in the white house beside favoring his friends in Gas business??

    Come on let's drill it, let's not leave anything to the next generation, country of greed...

    August 2, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Howard

    Who cares if off shore drilling is new or not ... we need it ... 76% of Americans want it ASAP ... Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are allowing petty party politics to be more important than the needs of America.

    August 2, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. Media darling

    Ame to Bayou Joe for this:

    The only ones using the Race issue are the Obama supporters and Obama himself. I have seen many blogs, insinuating that if you are not for Obama you must be a Racist. Many Texans experienced the
    hatred and intimidation when they came to support Hillary at the Caucuses. The media hoopla surrounding Obama and the failure of the mainstream media to challenge Obama on issues during the debates also was handled as if they are afraid of the Afro-American
    Many people that I know have expressed the idea that if Obama does not get the nomination, there will be riots in the streets of our major
    cities. So tell me who is using the Race issue to divide America.

    August 2, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. We've drilled offshore for years......

    Drilling offshore will have NO impact on gas prices at the pump. I live in Newfoundland, Canada and we've drilled oil here off our coasts for almost thirty years. I paid $5.20 a gallon just yesterday to fill my car's tank.
    Do not be deceived by pie in the sky promises by John McCain, offshore drilling will NOT equal lower gas prices. It has greatly benefited our local economy but we still pay the same as you. Obama has always been right on this issue folks.
    Also tax cuts for oil companies have been in place for years and where's the trickle down effect? There is none. There never will be one. If they can't afford a little R&D and creation of alternative energy solutions on the obscene profits they've already been making for years what makes you think continuing tax cuts for these companies will make them do it next year or the one after? Tax cuts for big corporations don't work. They simply do not use them to help the ordinary citizen.
    Do your own research Americans. The Republicans are playing off your fears. At least Obama plays off your hopes.

    August 2, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Dan , TX

    How many people have compromised to try to get things done? How many people have made a deal where they gave up something to get something. Is drilling for oil going to solve our gas price problem? Of course not. Will it help employ people in the oil industry? Perhaps.

    Common sense? YES!

    August 2, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Susan

    FLIP FLOP flip flop FLIP FLOP flip flop FLIP FLOP flip flop FLIP FLOP

    August 2, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. mountain man

    Give me a break! Obama saw the poll numbers and realized that the American people support drilling so once again he does a 180. Democrats chances to take back the white house are getting slimmer by the day.

    August 2, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Dec 25th 2012

    another flip flop.. opportunist.. same old politics, will do anything to win

    August 2, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Obama supporter: Bipartisan Intelligence in Gov't

    If people are following McCain's "lead, why hasn't he commented on the bipartisan deal being worked out? McCain hasn't been anywhere near the Congress in months so I guess he doesn't really know.

    Remember it was McCain who completely flipped on off shore drilling in the first place.

    Why is the media so afraid to actually scrutinize McCain?

    August 2, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. me

    After listening to Senator Obama in Florida I am absolutely convinced this is the man to lead america into the future. He sees our country as being a global player – not isolationist. He wants us the people to be able to compete globally – not fall behind. When you look at all that Europe, Brazil, China and India are doing to move away from fossil fuel, we are certainly falling behind. We need a president that can lift us out of the doldrums. He speaks of cutting tax breaks off from the companies that export jobs from america! Thank goodness! If you have been affected by outsourcing you'll understand. American jobs need to stay in america – after all these big corporations never hesitate to take our american money – yet want to employ cheaper labor. Obama has a plan! Vote Obama!!!

    August 2, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. Bill

    Haha. Hilarious. Figured it was just a matter of time before he flipped on this one, too.

    How is it that you can rip on John McCain and others that want to drill off shore, basically accusing them of political stunts - and then TURN AROUND DO THE EXACT SAME THING you've accused your opponents of doing for the past several months? I don't get that.

    It's like the guy has no backbone... what does he stand for? Does he just sway with the polls? That's kinda scary. I have no problem with McCain changing his mind - because he did it before the opinion polls showed most Americans wanted it. It's one thing to flip flop because of facts on the ground, but I have a problem when you flip because poll numbers show it's popular.

    Say what ya want about George Bush, but he obviously doesn't give a crap about opinion polls. I know a lot of people hate him – but, he stands by what he believes.

    Hateful Bush comments to begin in 3... 2.... 1....

    August 2, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Robert Wooller, West Yorkshire England

    I am wilth Obama, we need to lower energy costs while still being green and friendly towards the environment. The issue here is not Obama, it is the fact that Bush is so obssessed with money, power – and oil that he can't be green. While everyone else is trying to be green, Bush says he will just go and drill on protected land and everyone else can lump it. We have got to stop Bush before he makes another dreadful mess, after Iraq, Afghanistan and other mistakes. Bush basically doesn't have any other goal in mind than making him and his oil rich cronies richer and America has had enough. So has the world. They have had enough for nearly eight, long years.

    Obama '08, on your way, Bush!!!!!

    August 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Joy

    Less than 48 hours ago, he gave speeches AGAINST drilling.

    I'm a little offended that he thinks Americans are that stupid.

    August 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. Puma-SF

    WORM=What Obama Really Meant. If you are still supporting this man please call the doctor. You need your head examined.

    Puma Power

    August 2, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. Susan, PA

    Although, I support Obama, I am with McCain with offshore drilling. Its another matter whether the promises will be fulfilled.

    Obama's flip-flop will cost him dearly. It seems like that the campaign is running out of gas. They have to be as brutal as GOP. This election is not about being principled, its about winning and when it comes to win, nobody can rival GOP. We may hate Rove but he did the best he was hired for.

    August 2, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Mike H.

    Obama not only flip-flops, he lies about it. The man will do anything to be elected.

    August 2, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Bob, Dallas TX

    Obama keeps proving himself to me. The ability to compromise is how you represent the will of the people. Unlike Bush and now McCain who think they are somehow special and somehow not required to serve ordinary American interests over the interests of the oil industry.

    Mr. Obama has won my vote this year!

    August 2, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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