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. Lambert Moore

    I find the media is so bias, because whenever Senator Obama changes or refine his position. We have almost a week of back an forth of how he changed position; but Senator McCain can do the same exact same thing and their is hardly any reporting on it.
    Sure, we can say we ask him about him changing, but let's face it; their is suddenly a lack of the media to focus on Senaton McCain negatives.
    As for as the McCain camp trying to say that Senator Obama interjected race into this election. Thie is just ludicrist. Rick Daive is the one who interjected race into this campaign. All those reporters that was present not a one said a thing about race till Rick Davis tried to flip the script away from the American people.
    Can we please get back to issues that most Americans want to hear about (universal health care, jobs, economy etc...).

    August 2, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. LucieLee

    Once again the media thinks that we are stupid!! Obama has not changed his stance on offshore drilling. He has said he is very interested in what the Senate "gang of ten" has compromised on. Obama is being pragmatic and sensible. isn't that what we want in our leaders? He has also said he is not going to allow the oil companies to drill in areas that have not already been leased as well as not letting them have free reign. I think you need to focus more on John McCain's flip-flopping on the issue...this is one more you missed. There is a big difference changing your mind on an issue and being pragmatic. Why the higher standard for Obama?

    August 2, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Mark

    Another Obama sellout.

    FISA, Iraq, and off shore drilling.

    Is it too late for Hillary to be the nominee?

    If not, I am voting for McCain.

    August 2, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. lilian

    the obama fans dont seem to be posting coments, if it were the other way round there would have been 200 negative coments already.

    August 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. jon

    Wow... talk about slanted pieces.
    This is so disingenuous, and misleading, suggesting that "McCain's views on offshore drilling appear to match those of many Americans..."
    Ummm... why no mention, that Senator McCain recently flipped on his opposition to Off-Shore Drilling?
    Why are McCain's daily flips, flubs, & lies, always ignored by you guys, while Obama is held to a different standard?
    The fix does seem to be in...

    August 2, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Brittanicus

    The executive director Diversity Alliance for Sustainable America (earthtimes) have stated in it's article that if the U.S. grants amnesty and gives citizenship to 12 to 30 million illegal migrants, as Senators Obama and McCain propose. All those naturalized citizens could possibly add 120 million U.S. and foreign-born relatives to the U.S., in the next 20 years whom all would CONSUME MAJOR ENERGY. Proposals to reduce energy costs in the U.S. will not work unless we also simultaneously curb U.S. population growth by reducing immigration and curbing teen pregnancies."

    Americans cannot afford to support illegal aliens here with our tax dollars, or the millions who will jump the fence in the future. Only THE FEDERAL SAVE ACT (H.R.4088)offers any chance of halting this overpopulation quagmire It's enactment will give ICE and the police more enforcement powers. Join NUMBERSUSA for free and become part of a solution and not lies.

    August 2, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Bendo

    Well they knew full well Mclame would attack and try to frame this as a flip, but it also frames it has his is willing TO compromise and is not so ridgid in his thinking. I hope that Obama attacks back on everything, hope the in the short term the polls tighten and later after the debates and convention, builds a small but steady lead. Obama must make gains with the Independents who will decide this election. If the younger newly registered people vote, he may pull this off in a sqeaker in the popular vote and electorial vote. The way I calculate, if Obama loses Michigan he is done. If Mclame loses Fla, he is done. I think Ohio and NH will be pivital. If Obama takes the Hispanic vote, NM is his and CO by the slimist of margins. NC, MO will stay red, VA may even stay red, if not, Obama wins. There are more likely scenerios where Obama can win and less of Mclame winning. Obama can lose, but Mclame may just win by the slimist of margins, and dont count out a electorial tie, even if its way against the odds. If there is a tie, guess what it goes to the House and who controls the House....thats right DEMOCRATS!

    August 2, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Spin This CNN

    So, let me get this straight. The headline says.... "Obama defends offshore drilling policy change". It seems to me that the real change has been the constuctive conversations between Republican and Democratic Senators. Wonder what has prompted the turn around. Don't answer that's obvious. It's amazing to me that when a good, honest answer to one of the nations problems is provided by Senator Obama there is immediate effort to twist and turn those responses to...let's face it....appeal to Dumb....and Dumber. The media has feasted on the low information individual far too long. This time will be different.

    August 2, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |

    With no record for us to examine so that we can know what Obama really stands for, he promises one thing on Monday and the exact opposite by Thursday.

    Give me a break.

    Knoxville NFIL

    August 2, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. mike

    Hey i thought it was just a scheme by McCain. Suddenly its now part of a comprehensive package... gee where did i hear that before... oh yeah – McCain!!!

    August 2, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Obama is following

    Barrack Hussein Obama is a big loser on the energy issue. Now that he's falling in the national trackers, he supports more drilling. What kind of leadership is that?

    McHero McMaverick is consistently providing leadership against the grain on the 3 main issues the United States needs to address energy policy: bringing back the strong dollar, more domestic drilling, and energy diversification via the atom.

    Expect a similar "my support for additional nuclear power production isn't really a new position" statement on the trail in about 2 weeks, when people get their natural gas summer energy bills.

    August 2, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. Haze


    How many more before election day?

    How many more after?

    This lifelong democrat is thoroughly depressed.

    August 2, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. John Air Force Vet

    Well I don't like the idea BUT- a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If you have to give an inch to move a mile -so be it. I just hope Obama is President so it is not exploited.

    August 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. judy, Wisconsin

    I'm so discusted with the use of the term "flip-flopping", the Repug term 1st applied to Kerry. Seems unless a person is rigid and stubborn like GWB (and look what that got us!), they are called a flip-flopper about everything. What's so bad about thinking and refining your position or compromising so other's opinions are taken into account. Aside from that–Dems unite!!!

    August 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. CY Lin

    Shouldn't we be shouldering this little bit of burden (high gas prices) for future generations? Shouldn't we make sure that this energy dilemma is solved in this generation, and not simply postponed? The future generations already have quite a full plate, as it were.

    Obama wants to find a comprehensive solution that incorporates a number of strategies beyond that of offshore drilling. I find that to be very reasonable. McCain, on the other hand, seems to favour a bandage solution that really won't do anything to shift our dependence on fossil fuels. That, to me, is irresponsible.

    August 2, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. john

    see? obama is switching sides...AGAIN.
    how surprising.

    what is this? "wasn't really a new position."????
    hes been switching sides to fit the current situation and then tells people later something else.

    August 2, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. yellowdog john

    Had Hillary made such a clear and understandable "clarification" the media would be all over it saying "pandering"

    August 2, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  18. Marlon

    Offshore drilling is pure idiocy if they consider it a long run strategy. We're drilling in the most hurricane prone parts of the country so basically what will happen is every summer, during hurricane season, all the offshore drilling will be impacted and they will raise fuel prices to "compensate the damages" and we'll be back to playing the same game we're playing now. The answer is find a cleaner alternative fuel that can employ people and industrialize the country.

    August 2, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Laurie, Canada

    Obama's policies just keep shifting like the wind!
    I can't believe the DNC would choose this flake over Hillary Clinton...
    what a joke!

    August 2, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  20. Bobby from MS

    Now he is talking some sense!

    August 2, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. Sorensen

    Mr. Axelrod –

    McCain is making a complete fool out of himself.
    In spite of which, you are still losing points.
    3 points difference!!
    Why don't you resign and let a strategist with brains take over.
    I am disappointed that Obama has not figured this out by himself
    a long time ago.
    Where is Michelle? She is brighter and faster than all of you.

    August 2, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. Mark Dover, Delaware

    Anyone with any common sense knows that the president will have to compromise on issues to achieve anything. That' s what the current administration and republicans in congress just don't understand. These republicans attack if you don't compromise or if you do. Vote Democrat this election. Shouldn't even be close.

    August 2, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. LeMonton

    "Celeb" and "The One" won't get things done and fix problems. Working together will.

    Obama: "What I'm interested in, ultimately, is going to be governing," he said. "What that means is we're going to have to try to get things done."

    Obama: "At some point people are going to have to make decisions. Are we going to keep arguing or are we going to get things done?"

    Obama: "What I don't want to do is for the best to be the enemy of the good," he said. "And if we can come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise, in which I have to accept some things that I don't like or the Democrats have to accept some things that they don't like in exchange for actually moving us in the direction of actual energy independence, then that's something I'm open to."

    August 2, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. ted

    CHANGE.......what a Joke. Up down black white yes no maybe so, whatever the people want to hear anytime anywhere.
    Does this man have any beliefs...........ANY? NO, Change you can believe in "THATS FOR SURE". Leadership, Integrity, TRUST, forget it.

    August 2, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. Joe

    Obama shows time and time again that he is way more in touch with the reality of our situation than McCain. Let's not forget how in bed the republicans are with oil companies. of COURSE they'd want more drilling. That means MORE money for them!

    Off shore drilling is a gimmick to the American people. It wouldn't even come into effect for another 10 years and only scratch a few cents off the cost of oil. Don't eat what the republicans spew. Off shore drilling is a waste of American tax dollars. There's a reason republicans support off shore drilling. They're in close ties with these oil companies. It's all a sham!

    Do people also remember why Bush won in 2000 and 2004? He played the smear attacks like McCain is doing now. Do we need ANOTHER Bush?!

    We need to end this nonsense and move our country in the right direction again. VOTE OBAMA. He is FOR THE PEOPLE.

    August 2, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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