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. NoBama


    August 2, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Independant Thinker

    Ah, Obama and his fellow democrats continue to try to shift the country's need for oil by telling us to conserve and inflate our tires.

    Obama claimed the other day that we could eliminate our dependance on foriegn oil if we "just inflate our tires".

    What kind of idiots does Obama think that he is talking to???

    Talk about an ELITIST !! He has been drinking too much of his own koolaid !!

    The way that Obama and the democRATs are talking about energy is going to do nothing but HURT average Americans, especially the poor.

    And to top it all off, the democRATs are currently floating a bill to RAISE the gasoline TAX by an additional 18 cents/gallon.

    The democrats have turned from the party of the poor to the PARTY of ELITISTS !!.

    August 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  3. What THe Heck?

    Now where are all those left liberals who supported this Manchurian candidate. It is OIL that is behind "him". Big OIL backs Barack Hollywood Obama!!

    August 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. Military Man

    We've got one of two situations here ... Obama is either flip-flopping on what have been key campaign points due to public opinion or he's simply pointing out that his stand doesn't and hasn't really ever stood for anything at all. Drilling, sir ... are you for it or against it? You've stated many times that you're against it, but now you're saying you might be ok with it if done correctly? Isn't that what McCain has been saying for a while now? Isn't that what you criticized him for?

    How many times did you vote neither yes nor no while a senator? How many times did you just vote "present". With virtually no track record, why am I supposed to trust you to stick to your guns as president? You're certainly not inspiring confidence as a candidate. You, sir, are an empty suit. It's obvious that you will say anything and trash anyone to get ahead. You stand for nothing, and you're certainly not an agent of change.

    Obama? Say no to empty suits.

    August 2, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. Mike in Houston

    Let's see Obama's evolution of energy policy.

    Position 1: Do nothing.
    Position 2: Inflate your tires.
    Position 3: Get a tune-up.
    Postiion 4: Drill offshore...maybe.

    Want to get a solution to the energy problem: vote in a brand new Congress and send Obama back to Chicago.

    August 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. Jerry from Oregon

    Now I'm sure we'll be hearing McCain and the rest of the Republican cronies shouting to the sky that Obama is flip-flopping again. I wouldn't say so, he's being pragmatic. Politicians by definition compromise their positions to move forward. that's what they're supposed to do. Obama is saying he will support some, limited, offshore drilling in order to get the support for other energy conservation proposals. This is what politicians are supposed to do people. it is NOT flip-flopping, it's called compromise and is the essence of politics

    August 2, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Texas Trail Dog!

    post my comments cnn!!!


    August 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. nkc46

    well i'd like to ask the obama suppourters who smeared mcain on this issue saying he was in the pocket of the oil lobby one question.

    wheres you're messiah now?
    And when is obama goin to adress his error in judgement in pushing ethanol from crops as it would benefit his state but has contributed to people starving in the world today

    August 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  9. ChicoSez

    Obama never makes a mistake or actually changes his position. If you just listen to his explanations, you'll understand. Obama believes that he can talk his way out of or into anything, including the White House but the Presidency must be earned, it shouldn't be a rank opularity contest. If you will say or do anything to be president, like Obama, you are not a new kind of politician. Obsms's inexperience will lead to a Jimmy Carter type presidency. Thanks to Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy, we got Obama shoved down our throats. PUMA

    August 2, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. Patty, Big Bear, CA

    Only in the present polical climate would "compromise" be a dirty word and something not desireable. I find it interesting that these people cannot clearly see that drilling for more oil would keep us dependent on oil....theirs and ours....we need to figure a way to get off oil, not simply prolong the inevitable

    August 2, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  11. Priscilla

    Obama does not flip flop. He weighs all the odds and listens to the American people. After all, America is a democracy.

    August 2, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Willy

    Obama has taken a play out of the Clinton hand book under "everyone knew that" . This dude has more junk in him than a stuffed turkey!

    August 2, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  13. Helen, NY

    Barack has taken 180 degrees turn. What kind of a candidate he is. He will cover all area to include both liberals and consrvatives. It looks like we will go nowehere when Barack has no policy and no issues.

    August 2, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  14. Fran

    Oh yeah, I can't remember him saying it.

    I'm an O supporter, but come on now.

    August 2, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. Dave, Illinois

    Typical Obama blowing smoke up our collective A@#.

    August 2, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. William Courtland, Earth

    Multiple catapult runways while the rail remains connected, carriers.

    August 2, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. sham

    a shaft for pelosi thank you ohb

    August 2, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  18. Ranjit, Dallas, Texas

    This has become the norm of obama's campaign. Taking two sides for all issues. No wonder, he is falling behind in the polls. Finally, America is waking up to real obama.

    August 2, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. Tim E

    Why would we need oil rigs like the one pictured? Wouldn't Moses' staff just part the waters so drillers could get right down to earth on this deal? John's staff says Barack has an inside track with The One for this kind of thing.

    August 2, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  20. Mark Ramsey MD Milwaukee WI

    Senator, this IS new. the vast majority of democrats do not want this. Hillary sure wouldn't go for it. We need to be looking to renewable sources of energy, not beating the dead horse of the world's drying up oil supplies. Are we sure it's too late to get Hillary for our nominee, or at the very least as the V.P.? This is exactly the type of problem I fear. Obama trying to work across the aisle (a good thing!) but in the mean time going too far. Hillary would be very helpful at your side to help you through this. For eight years she fought right beside Bill and has the experience you need to deal with the republican "freak-a-zoids".

    August 2, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  21. Belle

    Yup...that is Senator Obama...flopping on issues yet again, then pretending he was for them all along....

    Change you can't trust.

    August 2, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  22. Fla

    Mr. Obama, you are an Impostor. Your stance about drilling is "no" as it has been all a,long. Have your advisors to review all your speeches
    and for once if is there anything remotely different that "no" please be man enough to admit it.

    August 2, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  23. Belle

    Does HE really believe American voters are so stupid that they won't notice he changes his stance as often as he changes his clothes? Doesn't he have any firm beliefs on anything?

    Give us Hillary Clinton at the CONVENTION. CHANGE YOU CAN TRUST!

    August 2, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  24. Malcolm Little

    Bush and McCain would stubbornly "stay the course". Not what I want in a president.

    August 2, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. Jay from New Jersey

    FISA, Jeremiah Wright, Public Financing, the list of back peddling gets longer on the road to the White Houe loser's club.

    August 2, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
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