Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has come to the aid of his successor, Charlie Crist, and fellow Republican John McCain after the pair caught flak for endorsing offshore oil drilling this week.
Bush, along with most Democratic and Republican politicians in Florida, had opposed oil drilling off the state’s tourism-friendly coastline.
But during a conference call with reporters, Bush said:
“You can protect the natural resources and the coastline of the state and also be part of a national effort to deal with a national security crisis that our country faces right now.
“It’s a huge economic problem for a lot of Americans, which is four-plus dollars a gallon gasoline. It’s a burden that was never anticipated when we were discussing drilling policy 20 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, two years ago.
“So I think you’ve got to give people in public life a little bit of room when the context changes for them to also adjust their views.”
Some observers are opining that McCain’s endorsement of offshore drilling will likely damage the presidential candidate’s chances of winning in Florida, where he had been considered the favorite, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Taegan Goddard wrote on the Congressional Quarterly’s Web site: “At best for McCain, Florida is going to be competitive and oil drilling will be a key issue in the campaign. At worst, McCain just seriously hurt his chances in a critical swing state.”
But Bush dismissed that notion, telling reporters: “I don’t think it's going to hurt Sen. McCain. I think the knee-jerk reaction, just to say 'no' without an alternative, you know, it may work when times are good but when times are tough and people are hurting, they’re not going to tolerate that.”
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