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. Picabo, Upstate New York

    "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.

    Ummm.....I might believe that if gas prices hadn't started dropping immediately after it was announced that the ban was going to be lifted. And have continued to drop since then.

    August 2, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Timothy

    Obama has not change his position. Obama has heard the cries of the American people about the high gas prices and Obama said that he is open to getting things done. Obama is about the American People solving this drilling offshore to give the American People relief in this mess up Economy, due to Bush Administration. If some of the American people can'nt understand that Vote for Mccain and they will see a repeat of Bush failed Policies that brought about this messed up Economy. Mccain will repeat Bush Policies and that is a fact.

    August 2, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. made20

    Sure he has done that bifore on irag with a plan off withdraw 9 monds, now 16 monds. state of juruzalem, NAFTA. He has taken over hillary agenda, why she has come up with all the idea for democrats and people who want change. sooo

    August 2, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Janet

    To connect John McCain and leadership in the same sentence is a joke!!!! He is the furthest thing from leadership the American people have seen. Why not ask Britney Spears or Paris Hilton to lead our country- that would be equal to a term of John McCain!!!!! He is a disgrace to our country and his whole campaing exemplifies that!
    Obama 2008

    August 2, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. newbie pawns for Obama

    He is cute... black (well half) and has a nice smile.

    That is the reason they voted for him.

    August 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. The Obvious Choice

    There is no flip floping here.. Some people who don't have a clue just follow the crowd with no understanding of the matter. This is great.. it shows that Obama can adjust IF it means BETTER for the American people!
    Why are alot of these bloggers so quick to stick negtive labels? is it really because they are hiding under their racism rock.
    Can or does ANYONE really in their right mind believe McCain is a possible solution to the problems we face!
    This is totally ridicilous! Britney Spears n Paris Hilton ads which by the way ruffled the feathers of the Hilton camp cuz they donated to McSame talk about a SLAP IN THE FACE!!! Good for the Hiltons thats what you get for supporting someone with no substance or solutions to our problem!
    McCain really has no experience and worst he has NO judgment!!
    The Obvious choice: Obama!

    August 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Dem in CA

    OK, now what is the difference between Obama and McCain? This is very disheartening – I will be voting Green this year.

    August 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Dylan Pennsylvania

    You know...I personally support limited drilling. But you, sir, flip-flopped.

    I support your party and liberal ideas but you haven't sold me yet. Nor have you sold my family yet.

    Also, lets be honest. You just gave McCain ammunition to attack you with.

    I can hear his press conference in my head now.

    "My friends, we cannot have a President who flip flops more than pancakes."

    Then he'll give that laugh of his. Good god my day is shot.

    August 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Phil, FL

    So? McCain flip-flopped from no drilling to drilling first. And as soon as he did, his campaign received over a million in contributions. Go figure.

    If Charlie Crist allows it off Florida, that state will be totally in ruination within 10 years – maybe less. If he thinks the recession is bad now, wait until all the mess starts with tourism.

    August 2, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Racist Fools for Obama

    I am a racist because I refuse to vote for Obama- which half of his ethnicity and color am I afraid of?

    Obama CAN'T be a racist because he is haf white... but white people CAN be racists against him- EVEN though he is half white.

    That is the stupid logic that installed this puppet nominee over the far better qualified, tested, accomplished, loved and dedicated candidate.

    August 2, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. Dems are stuck in the fix they rigged

    Chickens are coming home to roost.

    Obama stole the nomination.


    August 2, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. Lisa

    Obama's supporters should feel pretty dumb now!! They spent millions if dollars on a man from Chicago that they don't even know.

    August 2, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Meg

    empty suit Obama, following McCain's lead

    August 2, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. tony

    the man of change has changed his position so many times...
    must have taken alot of heat on the inflating your tires commnets...his ego is so inflated he could probably provide wind power for the whole country.

    August 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Obama can forget it now!

    Party's Over!!!

    August 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Maggie

    Again, Obama is flip flopping. I think the democrats have made their biggest mistake by selecting Obama as their candidate. Come November, we will definitely see McCain as president whereas the democrats could have had Clinton as their candidate and she would have won over McCain. Anyway, the DNC with Howard Dean and the superdelegates will have accept this loss as their fault and will have to wait another 4 years to elect the right candidate. Hopefully, Clinton will be that candidate and by then Howard Dean will be removed fom his job.

    August 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    When Nancy Pelosi was asked about this on this morning's today show, she said there had been five senators republicans and five senators democrats, who had met and came up with a bipartisan plan, and Obama wants to work with bipartisanship, he will look at every option, that will provide quick relief for the American People. Also I heard a gentleman say, that no matter the plan of drilling, there will not be results for the next seven years, and possibly not enough oil then.

    Obama is not flip-flopping, he is refining policies as time changes.

    Americans need to listen to what he is saying with open minds and you will see that he is not flip flopping.

    August 2, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. Greg

    Is it any surprise that nothing gets done in Washington, that the press and everyone jumps all over a politician if he doesn't change his view, but merely says he will be willing to compromise to get something done? Governing doesn't mean getting everything you want all the time.

    August 2, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. T Guy

    You are a friendly flip flopper and I'll vote for you anyway.


    August 2, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Deborah Vallance

    Hi. Where is your coverage of Obama's press conference in full? He said a lot more than just the topic of oil drilling. Also, why did CNN chose not to cover the press conference live on TV? I have switched from CNN to MSNBC because it is not so biased towards the Republicans.

    August 2, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Otto Von Hinkie

    FISA, NAFTA, now offshore drilling.

    If a candidate stands firm on an issue then suddenly changes his mind 180 degrees, how can he be TRUSTED? Where is the promised CHANGE? Where is something different than "politics as usual"?

    June 20th, 2008, on Obama's own YouTube sight he outlined his FIRM stance against offshore drilling. Now he's with the opinion of "something is better than nothing".

    Weak. VERY weak.

    August 2, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Andrew Ruan

    This is frustrating. Mr.Obama, when could you stop flip-flopping on issues, especially some that are so important to a Democrat?

    I feel betrayed ! I wish I could have voted again,

    August 2, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. ao

    thanks for flip-flopping Obama, it certainly reinforces my conviction that you are the biggest liar of all politicians in DC, one who perfected it with the deceptive cape of beautiful rhetoric.

    August 2, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. James

    I still say I will never pay to vacation and stare at oil wells. I will never let my child or people I love swim and leave the water with oil film.

    Being the president call for being pragmatic. Everyone loves to say we need more drilling and more nuclear energy.

    I'll support it when I see these same people volunteering their backyards and starting petitions to store nuclear waste in their community and oil rigs and refining plants next door.

    Like always, you'll see sure we want it but not in my backyard!!!

    Any republican/conservative who criticizes Obama for this is a hypocrit.
    This is just one of the positions that McCain has flip flopped on. You can't keep any legitamacy as an honest person if you criticize Obama for the same thing you applaud McCain for.

    August 2, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Indiana Bob

    I would like to add a comment about Obama and the Obamabots. The disgusting post below is an example of the "high road" that is being taken by the Messiah and his lackies.
    McTraitor July 31st, 2008 10:38 pm ET

    All McWar can do is go negative because he has nothing positive to say about himself and he knows his stances are flawed and failed.
    And this post is supposed to show how negative McCain is and how upstanding Obama and his cult are. Referring to Sen. John McCain as a traitor is lower than any politician has gone before. While fighting for his country, McCain was shot down in Viet Nam and spent years as a prisoner of war. To refer to him as a traitor is pathetic. Especially when your candidate, Barack Hussein Obama, has done nothing for our country but blow smoke and tries to use race for his own political gain. Is this the kind of hatred we want from the leader of our country? Is this change we can believe in? Wake up people, before it is too late!!

    PUMA - Vote for a true patriot - Vote McCain

    August 2, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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