1. John McCain does a complete flip-flop on his offshore drilling position:
Mr McCains shift on offshore drilling which contrasts with his strong support for upholding the moratorium in his 2000 bid for the Republican nomination could further chip away at his reputation for being a straight talker.
Some even compare his shifting stances with those of John Kerry, the 2004 *Democratic candidate, who was skewered by Mr Bush for his contortions over the Iraq war.
John McCain was against Mr Bushs tax cuts before he was for them, and now he is in favour of offshore drilling after he was against it, says Thomas Mann at the Brookings Institution think-tank. If Senator McCain continues to try to appeal to the base and to the centre simultaneously in this way, then his straight-talk brand is going to suffer.
Nelson said the drilling issue would mark a clear difference between McCain and Barack Obama, who opposes offshore drilling and has called for greater investments in alternative energy sources.
"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that you cant drill your way out of the problem,'' said Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who flew aboard the space shuttle as a congressman. "You have to go to alternative fuels.''
Nelson, asked today if opposition to oil drilling is perhaps not still "the third rail'' in Florida politics that it once was, suggested that there is a bigger problem with McCain's proposal.
"The politics is clearly going to be who is going to offer the vision and show the way of how we get out of this energy crisis that we're in,'' Nelson said. For a major candidate for president to say that his answer is to drill off the coast of the United States, it just shows a lack of vision and one that is not grounded in reality.
It shows a coziness with the oil companies and the big Wall Street investment banks that are fueling this run-up in speculation on the prices on an unregulated trading market, Nelson said. Barack knows this and that is why you are going to see a real contrast between John and Barack on just this issue.
Florida Democrats are confident that McCain is handing them a potent campaign issue in a state that has to be considered generally more favorable to the Republican in November.
"No one we know of has ever won a statewide Florida election without supporting a moratorium on offshore drilling,'' the St. Petersburg Times notes.
"Even former Gov. Jeb Bush disagreed with his brother on this issue. Florida cannot afford four more years of corporate welfare for oil companies,'' said Mark Bubriski, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.
2. Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, ON THE SAME DAY, does THE SAME FLIP-FLOP as McCain:
"Crist has dropped his long-standing support for the federal moratorium on offshore drilling,'' the Associated Press reports. "The governor says the nation needs to look at all options in response to rising fuel prices."
"If John McCain jumps off a cliff, will Charlie Crist jump, too?" Bubriski asled. "This bald-faced flip-flop erases any lingering hope that Empty Chair Charlie actually cares about the people of Florida. It's simply shameful."
As McCain revealed Monday that he now favored an end to the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has changed positions and called for an end to the federal ban of offshore oil drilling -- a reversal for him -- and that he would flesh out his position in a speech today, much speculation immediately focused on the tough position in which Crist, an oft-mentioned veep prospect, would find himself.
The Washington Post wrote that the push by McCain to deep-six the ban as part of the response to raising gasoline prices and let each affected state decide the exploration issue "is sure to annoy two key Republican allies," California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Crist. Both have opposed coastal drilling.
In both states, support for the moratorium has been a given for most politicians (for more on how the issue plays in Florida, see this posting on the Chicago Tribune's Swamp blog).
MSNBC's First Read posting this morning noted the following: "No Republicans in Florida have gotten elected statewide without endorsing the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling, so McCain's decision is going to get its share of criticism even from VP wannabe" Crist.
But the item added that if "Crist tries to rationalize the McCain decision then we'll really find out just how much he wants on the ticket."
Apparently, very much.
A story posted by the Miami Herald a short while ago starts thusly: "Describing his position as evolving, Gov. Charlie Crist said he now supports exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Florida's coast because 'Floridians are suffering.' "
For more on Crist's change of heart, go here:
3. President Bush, ON THE SAME DAY, does THE SAME FLIP-FLOP as McCain AND Christ:
The move underscores how $4-a-gallon gas has become a major issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, and it comes as a growing number of Republicans are lining up in opposition to the federal ban.
The partys presumptive presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, used a speech in Houston on Tuesday to say he now favors offshore drilling, an announcement that infuriated environmentalists who have long viewed him as an ally. Floridas governor, Charlie Crist, a Republican, immediately joined Mr. McCain, saying he, too, now wants an end to the ban.
Even before the disclosure of Mr. Bushs decision, the drilling issue caused a heated back-and-forth on the campaign trail on Tuesday, as Mr. McCain sought to straddle the divide between environmentalists and the energy industry, while facing accusations from his Democratic opponent, Senator Barack Obama, that he had flip-flopped and capitulated to the oil industry.
In Washington, the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said Mr. Bush would urge Congress to pass legislation lifting the Congressional ban on safe, environmentally-friendly offshore oil drilling, adding, The president believes Congress shouldnt waste any more time.
Congressional Democrats have opposed lifting the prohibitions on energy development on nearly all federal Outer Continental Shelf waters for more than a quarter-century, including waters along both the East and West coasts.
With oil prices soaring and motorists paying $4 a gallon for gasoline, political pressures have been growing for more domestic oil and gas production.
Democrats, as well as some Republican senators from coastal states, have opposed lifting the drilling prohibitions, fearful that energy development could harm tourism and raise the risk of oil spills on beaches.
Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, opposes lifting the ban on offshore drilling and says that allowing exploration now wouldn't affect gasoline prices for at least five years.
Congress imposed the drilling moratorium in 1981 and has extended it each year since by prohibiting the Interior Department from spending money on offshore oil or gas leases in virtually all coastal waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico and in some areas off Alaska.
President George H.W. Bush imposed a separate executive drilling ban in 1990, which was extended by President Clinton and then by the current president until 2012.
This is not going to play well in Florida for all three of them. Furthermore, they're going to have a hard time explaining exactly how drilling for more oil that we might see anywhere from 5 to 10 years from now is really going to substantially affect gas prices either now, or in the future. The fact that we currently EXPORT 10% of our domestically-produced oil doesn't help their argument much, either.
Most voters outside of the 30% Republican base are going to see this as exactly what it is - a calculated, coordinated, political, and cynical hit attempt on Obama and Democrats in Congress.