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. Russ

    Again,.....a refinement of a comment and stance which when analized is a FLIP FLOP. Anything said to upset the image of OB will be adjusted or refined. How about telling all of us why you won't pledge allegience, wear a flag pin, and never told us what you voted for while a Senator?. Obama's affiliation with black Liberation idiology, Black Power or just his diverse background makes him a VERY POOR candidate to run our great country.
    Remember when the Cuban people had an opportunity to respond to a man preaching CHANGE, RELIEF TO THE POOR, etc , etc. These are the words pronounced by FIDEL CASTRO, .We must be careful what change we ask for. We might well regret the choice for the rest of our lives, just like the Cubans. If a Colin Powell or similar American Black leader was running, I would be happy to vote for him. Not because he is black, but because he is a Black ,Patriotic American who has devoted his life and all his energies for our great country. We don't need more black power or white power, we need a patriot who will guide this country back to what it is capable of.

    August 2, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. dennis from chicago

    he is trying to save the party's butts from loss votes coming this november......i wonder if pelosi and reed had anything to do with this decision CHANGE we can believe in my opinion this shows his in experience and lack of good JUDGMENT///

    August 2, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. Wes

    His basic statement is still correct: ""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,". However, if you need to compromise to get something done, so be it. Amazing how the press seems to want a President who can work across party lines but, if they include any ideas suggested by the other side, it is a flip-flop and a severe negative.

    Why doesn't the press ask some basic questions instead of feeding controversy. For example:
    When most of the increases in price have historically been blamed on refinery outages, not oil shortages, what is being done to increase the refining capacity? What commitment is there that the offshore oil will even be refined in the US, let alone applied to the market there – what stops the oil companies from shipping it to China to be refined and sold? Oil is sold based on a global market – Opec will still be in control of the total supply and therefore price; why do you expect the price to be lower in the US? Why aren't they drilling in the offshore territories now available? What is an acceptable level of enviromental damage?

    August 2, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. nate

    So if in your life you make a compromise at work or at home because its in the best long term interests of your life and your family, does that make you a flip-flopper or a sensible, flexible person? Obama 08!

    August 2, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. Pandora's Box

    Yup, just another flip flop by Obama, or is it? Could this be evidence of leadership in compromise, bending on oil drilling to promote a more comprehensive plan? Is he then just adopting McCain's plan? It doesn't appear that way, but for those who insist that Obama is just blowing hot air, they will refuse to see or investigate the real differences between the two. Ironically, these candidates are both politicians (that is the nature of their positions), but the real panderer is not Obama, as is evident by the McCain advertisements. Yes, I want Obama to win the election even though I normally despise the major party candidates, but what I really want is the people of the United States to ignore campaign rhetoric on all sides and thoroughly investigate all candidates for president. It's more important to be an informed citizen (something this country lacks), then it is to hold on to ridiculous tag lines like empty suit or McSame, for these offer no real substance by which to make an informed decision.

    Peace my brethren and may your reason guide you better than your emotion.

    August 2, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  6. Frank Lawlor

    Every time a candidate offers a modification of a previously stated position, they are called "flip-flopers." The truth is that we live in a dynamic ever-changing world. To stake out a position and never vary from it is a sign of stubbornness, and not realistic. Only those who are willing to refine or modify stated positions can effectively govern. Just look at George Bush's record of obstinate, unyeilding positions, and where they have gotten us.

    Frank Lawlor
    Virginia Beach, VA

    August 2, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. nganenu

    There is no evil moving to the direction of a compromis that the senate has finally come up with. I applaude the senator on the right path.

    August 2, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Chuck

    He flip-flopped when he saw that offshore drilling polled well. Plain and simple. Same old politics.

    August 2, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Devon Spencer

    I really don't know why Republicans are talking about offshore drilling. If it doesn't provide us any benefit for about 10 years or so, what is the point? Why don't the oil companies fix refineries they already have?
    We need to be focusing on alternative fuel types. Global warming is a real threat that we are ignoring and we need to take action.

    August 2, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. some guy in New Hampshire

    What do you know - someone willing to compromise with the Other Party to accomplish something useful. This might look strange to people who are used to presidents and Congresses that are ideologically rigid and that have equated compromise with weakness instead of with the necessities of governing in a way that accomplishes something. Inflexibility is not strength but weakness. An unwillingness to seek compromise is not being principled; it's being tyrannical - not useful anywhere and especially not in a democracy.

    August 2, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Arack Bobama

    A man that doesn't know what he stands for, stands for nothing.

    Obama is simply a panderer, nothing more, which only makes him very dangerous for us all.

    August 2, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Dennis

    Obama is not a flip-flopper, he is both ways Obama. Change you can believe just as long as you vote for me.

    August 2, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. seyi

    When last did you go to the store and change your mind on what you originally intended on purchasing, due to better available options based on current circumstances? Does that make you a flip flopper? How naive we can all be! They are allowed to flip flop, because things happen and times change. The question to ask is whether this modification of view benefits you? Get a grip America! Whine about the economy, not about flip flops!

    August 2, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. Matt S

    Why are people so opposed to politicians shifting their positions? I'd be afraid if a politician didn't shift his/her views every once in a while to reflect the realities of the issues at hand.

    August 2, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. real man

    Obama is such a young puppy, send him back to the kennel!

    August 2, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  16. EBC


    Anyone with a BRAIN knows that issues change and when you are in a Presidential candidate role you need to be flexible. The thing hat I admire about Sen. Obama that he is willing to think outside the box and listen to both sides of the isle, not just a democratic side. AS President you have to be open to changes in your approach based on what's BEST of the country.

    Off shore drilling may NOT be the answer to our prayers, it NOT a "quick fix" to our oil and high gas prices, but it STILL needs to be addressed intelligently and effectively. Sen. Obama is very INTELLIGENT, as a Harvard Grad, he knows ALL the facts and will decide accordingly. Unlike our current Administration and John McCain. McCain has done nothing but focus on "negative" ads week, after week. I mean, will all the time he's spending attacking Sen. Obama, you'd think he'd be able to discuss the ISSUES of the country rather than putting together a "Brittney and Paris Hilton" ad. It's downright silly.

    August 2, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Oregon4Obama

    HE DIDDNT SHIFT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Its not like he said "gotcha" and switched and did a 180

    Here are some other things he said......

    “If we come up with a genuine bipartisan compromise, where I have to accept some things that I don’t like in order to get energy independence, that’s something I will have to consider,”

    Plus this proposed bill

    The proposed bill, from his point of view, offers some attractions. It would strip oil companies of $30 billion in tax breaks, renew tax breaks for solar and wind power, and give consumers a tax credit to buy electric or fuel cell cars.

    This is called a compromise......all good negotiators do it.......Obama would be a great president because he puts all the options on the we might be able to drill, but only if we can erase the tax credits oil companies get to invest in energy independence

    I dont see McCain backing this because his buddies in the oil companies would freak........This shows that Obama is no friend to big oil

    August 2, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Joshua, KY

    I'm an Obama supporter, and he is really making things harder for himself. I don't understand the direction the campaign is going. Why add on another item that his opponents can say he flipped flopped. I don't get it, and I'm pretty disgusted right now.

    I also hate the appearance of trying to be liked all the time. Just take a position and stick to it.

    August 2, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. A bitter Hillary Fan Waiting 4 years

    lol to flip or to flop.....that is the real question to "which stratagy obama will use for this election."

    August 2, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. HoldenLitgo

    Why is it okay for McCain to change his mind on an issue – which he's done countless times – but when Obama does it he has no backbone? Why is it okay for Reagan to be "The Great Communicator" when he spouts fancy "morning is America" rhetoric but with Obama he is merely speechifying – even though his proposals are more pragmatic and substantive – and his "words mean nothing." Why are Republicans so good at tearing things down and so bad at governing? Do they hate government so much that they're willing to destroy the core values as set forth by the Constitution as well as the nation's infrastructure? It's time for balance. Are we so unwilling to change that we're willing to continue to align ourselves with liars, cheaters and theives as we've done with Bush/Cheney just to maintain power? Extremists have taken over our government and it's political discourse – and that includes the press – leaving it to the rogues to bring change. That's what frightens you about this movement. Obama '08

    August 2, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Fran

    John McCain has Obama just where he wants him, explaining everything. I thought the O camp was smarter than that.

    Hang in there, it's going to be a bumpy ride O supporters.

    August 2, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  22. Daryl in Seattle

    Being willing to compromise for the greater good or bigger picture is not flip-flopping. Even though more offshore drilling is an obvious GOP and Big Oil ploy to further rape this country of it's economic and natural resources. If Obama can corner them into dedicating their future time and money to alternative energy cultivation just by giving them a fraction of what they're asking, then I'm all for that.

    I just fear that they will agree to try alternative energy research, but not dedicate themselves to it at all. These Oil Companies are as scandalous as the current administration. They'll find a way to swindle the people somewhere in the deal I'm afraid.

    August 2, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  23. anonymous

    McCain has is right–oil is directly related to terrorism and our
    dependence of it is causing problems. We need to pursue
    alternative solutions. This article just shows how little Obama
    really does know about running the world.

    August 2, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. CB

    Ummm.. Why is it so bad to change your mind if you are a politician. I for one am glad that there's a man who listens to reason and makes a change when needed.

    August 2, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Dylan

    Its called compromise people, if you can't compromise you have no business governing. Remember the great compromise of the late 1700's, that was true government. Its disgusting how everytime someone is willing to compromise we try to label them as a flip-flopper. Thats whats created this gridlock in government, politicians are too scared voters will label them if they COMPROMISE! Wake up, thats what you're supposed to do to get things done and serve the interests of this country. A president is the president of the UNITED STATES, not just the Red states or the Blue states, therefore he must be willing to serve the interests of both sides instead of ignoring one side in favor of the other like our current president.

    August 2, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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