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. Steve from NJ

    As much as i disagree with offshore drilling, and am slightly disappointed Obama has slightly moved to the center on this, i do give him credit for recognizing that we need to work across the isle to make anything happen in Congress. I'd rather have Obama than McSame...

    Obama '08!

    August 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Mike from WI

    Right-wing politics will call this a 'flip-flop', but it is refreshing to see a candidate allow for a revised approach based on honest reasoning and negotiation. Obama does it here; McCain also showed some openness when he allowed that troops might come home in 18 months if Iraq requests it. Nice to see partisanship doesn't overcome all logic on both candidates parts.

    Overall I believe Obama is the better listener and more open to nuanced positions, however.

    August 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    I don't like the thought of off shore drilling, its pointless. However, sometimes you have to compromise or you don't get anything done. If he can get everything else he wants by agreeing to this, I get it.

    August 2, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. 57 States

    That is not the off shore drilling I once knew.......I am BO and approve this message, wait maybe not, yes I do, no I do not, quick where is my teleprompter, I need the polls what are they.

    HAHAHAHA Hellow John Kerry

    August 2, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. J.C.

    Both Senators Obama and McCain listen to the public opinion.
    I don't think they flip-flop.

    McCain agreed to secure the border before comprehensive immigration reform.
    Now Obama realized off-shore drilling is needed.

    The talk about opening up our national strategic oil reserve to lower gas prices cannot hold water. They don't understand what "strategic" means.

    However, more details about offshore drilling have to be planned and made public before November, or it could turn into a disaster, too.

    August 2, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. cedric

    a real human, man or woman, is willing to admit to making mistakes; is willing to constantly reanalyze situations; is willing to listen to opposing arguments; is willing to place moral principles ahead of faction loyalty. if any politician is willing to change his/her mind, is willing to challenge him/her self and those around to perform better, then the only thing you can ask for.... that would prove better.... is perfection. i know that part of obama's image of holier-than-thou is partially self-inflicted, but is it realistic to hold him to a standard of perfection even if he tries to be perfect.
    not to make an excuse for him or to attempt to play the race card, but within the black community, we are taught to be that the only way to conquer bigotry and racism is through perfection. although perfection is unrealistic, the point is to encourage someone to try his/her best.

    August 2, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  7. Hoppity Hooper

    Flip Flop. Flip Flop. Flip Flop.

    Doing what it takes to get elected.

    Flip Flop. Flip Flop. Flip Flop.

    Saying anything to get elected.

    Flip Flop. Flip Flop. Flip Flop.

    August 2, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Indiana Bob

    More flip-flop from Obama. All of the political promises he made during the primary, to counter Hillary, have been cast aside now. No off-shore drilling was a promise he made in the last few days. So what are Obama's real political views? We don't need another liar in the white house. Obama is of the same ilk as Bush, just a different party.

    PUMA - vote for the person, not the party - Vote McCain

    August 2, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. archiesteel

    Nuanced positions are difficult to explain and defend in the sound-bite world of American politics. Kudos to Obama to at least try to have a reasoned debate about this...hopefully, the media will play its role in presenting these issues in an honest, rational way.

    August 2, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  10. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    the press and McBush do everything they can to twist Obama's words and make it sound like he's flipflopping when he isn't at all.... GET A BRAIN

    August 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. Annoyed Democrat, stop the bias against Obama

    CNN post this comment, you never post mine, and start reporting right.


    Obama still wants the alternate energy terms, but if the only way it can get done now is by appeasing republicans, then so be it. He said it himself, that offshore drilling still won't improve the situation.

    August 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. susie

    Rev. Wright was right, Obama will say and do anything to get elected!

    August 2, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. jeff

    He explains away his flip flop and the press accepts it and does not say to Obama your explanation IS a FLIP FLOP

    August 2, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  14. LT for Obama

    If this compromise does happen, it is a small concession to achieve the long term goal of energy independence. I see nothing wrong in working to free us of our "addition to oil."

    August 2, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. angie

    I am proud of obama he is right congress is deadlocked on this and the parties need to come to some kind of agreement to address our energry crisis obama is willing to compromise and reach across the asile only shows HE WILL BE A GREAT PRESIDENT!!!! and for all that are gonna claim he flipped flopped do keep in mind john mccain flippped as well at one time he was against drilling but now is all for it!!!!! so dont go there with the flip flop thing!!!!

    August 2, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. Tuyen

    I'm a supporter but if he continues to flip flop, I'm not going to vote at all. He has not backbone and is saying anything to get elected. Obama is starting to appear more as a fraud.

    August 2, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. William, from Cali!

    Why are we taking every remark on issues, from these candidates; to be their final position? They don't really mean anything, they are "just words" , what we need is "real action" to solve these problems. So, why are we "over reacting", to innuendo and mire words? Let's wait til someone really does something, one way or the other. Right now, it's recess time, for everybody!

    August 2, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Griff

    Flip-Flops like a Jelly-Fish in the Byss...

    August 2, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. California Gold

    Obama suggesting he would listen to proposals for offshore oil drilling or consider offshore drilling that meets a laundry list of conditions is a flip-flop. Obama doesn't talk out both sides of his mouth: that's McCain's forte e.g. "I will not run a negative campaign" or his "I support our troops" and consistently votes No on bills for the military servicemen and servicewomen.

    August 2, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. bimmer

    After hearing Obama change his postions to agree with McCain, I am wondering about his intelligence and judgement:

    Did he go to Columbia and Harvard through affirmative action (AA)?

    Is he expecting to get elected through AA again?

    August 2, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  21. Jake

    He called it a scheme two days ago – and now it isn't. What happened? Did God talk to him again and tell him to revise his stance?

    August 2, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. randy

    Well it ok for clearity now everybody need to understand what barack obama is saying.and it really make on on point on this issue.the solution to lower gas price is the point obama is pointing at.and the suggestion that offshore drilling will lower gas price is not through it will take at least 10yrs to make it on on reality.

    August 2, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. McCain is too old

    I am sure all 40 posters who support McCain will jump all over this story.


    August 2, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. NO JFK

    Good work DNC… and all you smart, college educated Obama supporters.

    Why would you EVEN think that the leftist could carry the entire party MORE easily than the most qualified candidate who was also the centrist and the unifier? AND the most trusted and loved for all her decades of dedication to her country and its people.

    Why would you hype that myth and then believe you could white guilt and party loyalty force us all to fall in line?

    Install a candidate to appease blacks and newbies and now LOSE THE ELECTION ONCE AGAIN.

    Here's a tip: ALL democrats would have chosen HRC- the centrist liberal moderate champion of the people- over ANY republican. Even the newbies and AAs and the left wing nut jobs. Why would they leap frog over her to the other side? THAT is the reason Obama needed his propaganda and myth of his ability to unify, and why he needed the race card, and why he recklessly split the party just to eliminate HRC. That is why the Media played up the myth of the black out of the vote and the newbies staying home. Yeah, right… that would give them the change they advocated. The DNC capitulated and hoped the insulted and the trashed would somehow kiss and make up with their abusers.

    But those people- the democratic loyal base- the centrist, liberal, moderate and more conservative, older democrats and the women scorned… well they will step to the right more easily than take a leap to the left. Hatred will do that to the party and its nominee.

    I'm no strategist and I KNEW that much. The left will vote center over right, but the center just might move to the right if ticked off and pushed by the unfairness and bias of a rigged primary.

    August 2, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. gotcha

    Obama's position is which ever will do him the most good politically. Flip Flop

    August 2, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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