(CNN) - As a dip in gas prices barely registers at the pump, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain continued his pressure on opponent Barack Obama over the politically popular policy of offshore drilling with a visit to an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We need to start drilling offshore,” McCain said Tuesday, standing on a Chevron oil platform that pumps out 10,000 gallons of oil and 15 million cubic feet of natural gas each day. “Sen. Obama opposes new drilling. He has said it will not ‘solve our problem’ and that ‘it’s not real.’ He’s wrong, and the American people know it. I hope he’ll seize the opportunity to come out and pay a visit like this one and I think it would probably change his mind.”
Both McCain and Obama opposed offshore drilling when the campaign began. But as prices at the pump reached $4 a gallon – and polls showed a significant majority of Americans favor the idea - both men shifted their positions.
The Arizona senator has embraced the policy. His fall rival says he remains personally opposed, but would consider legislation that includes a provision expanding the practice if the compromise was required to pass comprehensive energy legislation.
"Americans across our country are hurting, as we all know, because of the cost of energy," McCain said aboard the rig. "Gas prices are through the roof. Energy costs have seeped into our grocery bills, making it more expensive to feed our families. Now as we prepare for the winter, it's time for us to be more serious about our home heating oil needs…"
“New drilling has to be part of our energy solution,” McCain said. “When I’m president there will be a whole more like this, not only here in the Gulf, but also off of our East and West Coasts.”
McCain’s original plans to visit an oil rig in the Gulf several weeks ago had to be scrapped because of Hurricane Dolly. During a Wednesday safety briefing on the rigm McCain asked if anyone had ever fallen in the water. “Never,” replied offshore installation manager Joe St. Ann. “Knock on wood.”