One of the holes in my perception of McCain’s platform has been his reluctance to approve drilling for Oil on America’s Home turf. At a press conference today, he said he approved of Oil Drilling everywhere but in ANWR. He said that tomorrow he will formally call for the lifting of “the federal moratorium on states that choose to permit exploration.” Good first step John:

McCain: Let States Drill Off Shores; Let’s Have a Town Hall With La RazaBy Jim Geraghty
John McCain just completed a press conference here in Arlington, VA. Not the most chock-full of news appearance the senator has ever made, but one clear headline coming out of it — tomorrow he will call for the lifting of “the federal moratorium on states that choose to permit exploration” off their shores.The other interesting gauntlet he threw down? He recommended a joint town hall meeting before… the National Council of La Raza.

He said that in the coming weeks, he would be focusing on “America’s energy crisis” – the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Tomorrow he will call for the lifting of “the federal moratorium on states that choose to permit exploration.”

“We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil… exploration is a step toward the longer-term goal.” The candidate repeated his advocacy of a federal gas tax holiday.

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McCain also addressed his “repeated” calls for joint town hall meetings with Senator Obama, where members of the audience effectively select the topics with their questions. “Let the American people talk to us and ask us their questions. It would change the dialogue [I don’t think the reference was intentional] in Washington… I hope Senator Obama will reconsider my invitation. There is a meeting of La Raza after July 4. Both of us have accepted invitations to address that organization. I recommend we have a town hall eeting together. People will be informed, and maybe in some ways, more entertained if we did that.”

McCain said he met with the Iraqi foreign minister yesterday. “There is no doubt in his mind or in my mind that the surge is working. We are winning in Iraq. Are we going to allow the surge to continue to work? … [Senator Obama] wrongly said that the surge would not succeed.”

Mentioning that Obama is closing in on 900 days since he last visited Iraq, McCain said, “I urge him to meet with the foreign minister with Iraq, and more importantly, I urge him to sit down with General Petraeus and get his assessment of the military situation. He should do so as soon as possible. I think General Petraeus would be more than glad to provide him with a briefing.”

McCain also referred to Obama’s “bitter” comments. “I know why [residents of small towns] embrace their constitutional rights, and why they embrace their religious beliefs, and it’s because they’re fundamentally good and decent people.”A local reporter asked whether Virginia was a swing state this year, and how important the state was.

McCain does “accept” idea that Virginia is a swing state, adding that it is rapidly changing, and is dealing with the effects of rapid growth. “I’ll be campaigning a lot throughout this state. I was stationed in Tidewater area. I do not take it lightly. I’ve watched recent elections in this state, and I have a lot of work to do.”

Another local reporter offered something of a strange question about why the McCain campaign’s Virginia state victory office is in Arlington instead of Tidewater. McCain said there would be offices throughout the state, and Asked about the offshore drilling, McCain responded, “Right now there’s a moratorium, and they have to be lifted. I’m not dictating to the states that they drill for oil. I’m saying the moratorium should be lifted so states can choose that option if they want to.” He added that the situation might require “additional incentives… in terms of tangible financial rewards” to states that permit drilling. He said he didn’t have a particular position at this point on an appropriate distance from the coast for offshore drilling. Continuing the kinds of questions you only get from the Mainstream Media, McCain was asked about George Allen’s 2006 use of the term “macaca.” The actual question: “Did you take offense?”

McCain: “I thought it was very wrong. Right away I encouraged Senator Allen to apologize.”

Next the reporter brings up “Your reputation about your temper.” McCain immediately smiles.

Reporter: “You’ve said it’s a reflection of your passion. Senator Harry Reid said it’s not a passion issue, it’s that you have an anger management issue. Do you have an anger management issue?”

McCain: I would match my work with bipartisan support with anyone else in the Senate…Do I get angry from time to time? Well, Americans are angry. They get angry when we waste billions on pork-barrel spending… Do I get angry when I uncover a guy like Abramoff ripping off Indian tribes? I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of town hall meetings. Americans are angry.

Campaign Carl Cameron: Is lifting moratoria a way of addressing conservative irritation with your position
on ANWR?

McCain: “I believe ANWR is a pristine area… but I also believe lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas is a very high priority.”

Asked about his upcoming trips to Colombia and Canada, McCain said, “I do not intend to use foreign travel as a campaign forum. But I have traveled throughout my years in the Senate and before that in the House of Representatives. I know these leaders and these issues and that will be a part of this campaign… Obama said he would unilaterally renegotiate NAFTA.”

A reporter noted difficulties in the current U.S.-Iraqi status of forces agreement negotiations, and asked McCain, “What happens if the Iraqis ask us to leave?”

McCain “They won’t. I don’t engage in a lot of speculations about something that won’t happen. I believe we will have a strategic forces agreement in the best interest of the two nations. The Iraqis don’t seek that. I
met with the foreign minister yesterday. We want the withdrawal to be dictated by the circumstances on the ground.”

The next question was about a “couple dozen” GOP members of Congress who had not endorsed him, and whether that reflected difficulties in unifying the party.McCain: “All the polls we have as large a percentage of Republican party supporting me as President Bush had in 04. We have a lot of work to do. We are putting organizations in place, the money is coming in at a satisfactory level. I’m happy with the degree of unity that our party has, particularly after we had a very spirited primary. It helps when Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney all support my campaign.”

The last question was on the California gay marriage decision. McCain noted he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and said, “I believe marriage is unique relationship between man and women. I realize the people of California will probably make a decision on this, and it will probably be a ballot issue.”