Obama Now Open to Off-Shore Drilling

Barack Obama told a Florida newspaper Friday that he would be willing to compromise his opposition to off-shore drilling if that was necessary for a broader overhaul in the nation's energy policy.

"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.

"If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage -- I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done," said Obama.

Obama's softening of his opposition to expanded offshore drilling follows a concerted effort on the part of the GOP to portray the presumptive Democratic nominee as "Dr. No" on issues relating to the nation's energy supply.

Earlier this year, John McCain reversed himself and called for ending the federal ban on offshore oil and natural gas exploration so coastal states could decide whether to permit drilling.

Both presidential candidates spent Friday campaigning in Florida where the drilling issue was once taboo but is now gaining public support.

Obama is personally against expanded coastal drilling, believing that it would not provide tangible and immediate relief to consumers paying high gas prices. He also believes, as he reiterated on Friday, that the oil industry has not fully tapped the areas currently open to drilling.

The Palm Beach Post reports that Obama said he would consider "expanding the current drilling boundaries if it meant winning approval for more fuel-efficient cars, developing alternative energy sources and making the country more 'energy independent.'"

"The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama told The Palm Beach Post. "And so we don't want gridlock. We want to get something done."

The McCain campaign responded to Obama's interview by noting that the Illinois Democrat is still opposed to off-shore drilling even if he would go along with it as part of a broader compromise.

"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 off shore drilling," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "We hope Barack Obama will realize that his ongoing opposition to John McCain's realistic energy solutions and additional off shore drilling is wrong."

The Kicker:

"I noticed a couple of days ago that Senator Obama challenged me to a duel. Well, light sabers is my weapon of choice."

--John McCain speaking to reporters in Panama City, Fla.


On the campaign front. . .


-- 10:30 am ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters on economic security, Titusville, FL.

-- 2:00 pm ET: Addresses National Urban League Conference, Orlando, FL.


At the White House. . .


-- 4:00 pm ET: Welcomes the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai Emirate to Camp David.


At the White House. . .

-- 10:40 pm ET: Enroute to South Korea, stops at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska to speak with troops.


ABC News' Teddy Davis and Sunlen Miller Report: Obama: McCain's Eagerness to Exploit Race Issue 'Troublesome' LINK

ABC News' Jan Crawford Greenburg: Kaine: Lieberman for President LINK

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