August 2nd, 2008
02:21 PM ET
13 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. RJ, CA

    Silly little man Obama - thinks he can say "and this has always been my position" everytime he flip-flops (sorry, I men "refines") - and thinks we'll buy that . . .

    August 2, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  2. "the (wrong) one"

    He has done it again.....change we can believe in....not !!....he believes he has the right to fool the americans by " refining " his position on any issue... and the media has helped his circus show...his own supporters will hate him in a couple of years....he might go on to be the first black president of USA but I know if that happens he will also be the most foolish, most hated, most unqualified president EVER !!! colour is not a qualification Mr. Bama...oh, and his wife needs a few lessons on how to speak in public.

    Nobama !!!!!

    August 2, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. mama coo

    Not an Obama fan but all you people who are trying to make us afraid of him must be crazy! Obama despite his perceived arrogance and inexperience can do no worse than our current President and the Republican congress. Anyone who believes that the past 7 years have been great for this country just is not facing reality. For those that want to blame Democrats for all that is wrong with this country think again. It has been Republicans that have been playing games with the American people and they continue to do so.

    August 2, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  4. Jim

    So no mention today about the response by the DNC regarding McCains week. CNN you are so far in Mccains corner why don't you just endorse him?

    August 2, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. David Bakody

    It was once stated that; Politics is the art of compromise, having stated that it appears Senator Obama is true to his words that he is willing to unite all Americans.....and for that many see more hope than they have in past 8 years.

    August 2, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. ps

    1) I'm glad that Senator Obama is paying attention to what the American people are saying....
    2) Now, can he, as the leader of his party, get the Democrats in Congress to address the issue?? If so, it would give some indication that he can lead..... or persuade.....

    August 2, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Young & Educated

    Thats right Obama! Positons can be modified IF its the right thing to do in the best interest of the American people! He always put the American people and the Issues FIRST!
    He will be our BEST president ever!

    August 2, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. cedric

    i don't really see a problem with his 'supposed' position shift. if george bush would have been willing to say that he was wrong about WMD's, especially after light of no evidence, then i think that is a reasonable thing to do. it is better to be willing to sacrifice, compromise, and work together with people to get things done. this is a true representation of 'change.' obama is willing to work with everyone to make america better; he doesn't wish to waste time pandering and bickering about differences of opinion. although i am a bit skeptical of him myself, i am willing to take a chance on him because someone needs to make progress, not provide continuity – which is what i believe mccain offers.

    August 2, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. phony baloney Obama

    Spin = refining= clarifying= don't parse my words.

    Obama can change daily with the polls... McCain is accused of flip flops if he changes his position from that of decades ago....

    August 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Jesse

    The fact that Obama is willing to look at a situation and say earlier I did not see any benefit in it but after taking a closer look I changed position lets me know that he not only is super intelligent his has wisdom, and integrity.

    August 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Texas Trail Dog!


    August 2, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. James From Chicago

    Here we go again..FLIP FLOPPING...Can you imagine if he becomes President......OMG...Help us all.

    August 2, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. JFK

    Unless we get a guarantee from oil companies that all this extra off shore oil goes to U.S. consumers, its pointless. All the oil will go on the open market. With countries like India and China growing by millions every year, there is still a limited supply. If the oil goes on the open market, it will only slightly adjust prices in the short term. We need a real energy policy that will develop other sources of energy. Otherwise, we will be in the same boat in the next 5-10 years with $150 a barrel oil. We must rise to the challenge or repeat this nightmare.

    August 2, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. Propaganda IS Obama

    Well... his position is now McCains position: both parties must work together and ALL possibilities and angles must be explored.

    No NEW technology will be available for years, either.. so oil it is until then and during the transition... so let's not have it be foreign oil.

    August 2, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Steve Harrison

    Democrats finely get it, but aint it a shame none of them had the go-nads to hang around and do something about it I guess when they all voted to give the moron president his mile of rope they also determined that everyone in the country had to sacrifice except them. The crazy thing is they'll all come back and look at all the pissed off voters who had to cancel or redo thier summer vacations do to energy prices and go "WHAT?'. Whether your republican or Democrat I sure hope while your own child is hot and you can't afford to go any where for relief. You at least acknowledge how proud you are of your elected officials.

    August 2, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. Daniel from honesdale, pa

    WOW....WWWOOOOOWWWW. Are you serious? Who is going to vote for this fool? He flip flops more than aunt jemima making a batch of pancakes! Does anyone really want this man as the next President of the United States? John McCain has been supporting this issue all along. We rely on the most unstable part of the earth for our source of oil. Those nations hate the Jews and Christians and we want to rely on them as representing a mostly Christian nation? A nation founded on Christian principles? I would like to propose one thing. I would like to ask Barack Hussein Obama if he would please drop out of the race. For the sake of the American people and the nation we have created!

    August 2, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Joan B.

    BO gets up every morning and sticks his finger in his mouth then holds his hand up and says which way is the wind blowing today.

    August 2, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. 'Bama for Obama

    Obama is not flip-flopping. He is listening to the people. If the polls suggests that 70% of the people are for offshore drilling, he Must look into it. After all, this is a democracy (remember, government by the people?) He would be a fool not to look into it. It does not mean he will just jump on the bandwagon. He will dig deeper and report to the people. If Bush had done this on many issues we wouldn't be the sorry state we're in now as a country.

    August 2, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Phil

    Why criticize someone that wants to try and make us energy indepent. It seems the criticizm is unnessasary

    August 2, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Dimslie

    I get it. His answer is: "Yes, but, no".

    August 2, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Doris,Memphis,TN

    I cannot believe David Gergen. A month ago he stated that if Barack
    Obama put Hillary Clinton on the ticket he would need a food taste
    tester. And now he wants her on the ticket. This is unbelievable.
    For a moment, I had great respect for him. All I can say is Barack
    hang in there. You are fighting two wars McCain and his childish
    crew and the power hungry Clintons.

    August 2, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. prince sarpong

    a compromise on mr obama's stand on this issue is laudable but i believe it's a political albetros for him given the politics of America today. i believe any stand one takes on this matter should be amenable to reason and subject to a compromise between environmental safety and economic expediency

    August 2, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  23. Politics

    This was a winner for McCain but I guess now that Obama is wavering, McCain can use this to attack him as a flip-flopper

    August 2, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. newbies don't know any better

    His Forte is shift changes... follow what is polling well.

    I didn't know (for 20 yrs) didn't know Rev Wright was a lack liberation theology advocate...

    I can not DISOWN him- he is like an old uncle to me....

    I can not condone Rev Wright if he cost me votes... so I NOW can and will denounce, disavow and disown him...

    Same for my Church...

    Same on FISA...

    August 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. dan2008

    Wow, the flip-flopper flip flaps again!

    August 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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