St. Paul, Minn. (CNSNews.com) – The great-grandson of John McCain’s political hero said Thursday that he doesn’t think the Republican presidential candidate will promote “extreme” offshore drilling for oil.
Theodore Roosevelt IV -- the great grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt -- also called on Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to rethink her stance on oil drilling and polar bears.
Roosevelt spoke to a gathering of Republicans for Environmental Protection, a pro-conservation group that sometimes opposes party leaders.
McCain, an Arizona senator, often has supported environmental legislation opposed by Republican Senate leaders, such as capping carbon emissions. He also believes that human activity is contributing to global warming.
After securing the nomination, McCain changed his position on expanded domestic oil drilling, citing the escalating gas prices that exceeded $4 per gallon in the summer.
However Roosevelt is not worried that McCain is retreating from his environmental record.
“Primaries and elections are sometimes silly season and you’ll see people say things to reach out to one base or another,” Roosevelt told CNSNews.com. “I’m pretty confident the senator will move back, because I think he does believe in the environment and I think he’ll be a good environmental steward. I have the expectation he’ll do that. If he doesn’t, I’ll tell him, ‘Mr. President, let’s move back to the positions I think you represent.’”
Roosevelt stressed that he does not believe McCain is lying to voters about his support for expanded domestic oil drilling. Roosevelt said he would support drilling as part of a broader energy policy.
“Some offshore drilling I think is appropriate, but it has to be done under certain conditions,” Roosevelt said. “You want to see the companies use absolutely the best technology. They should not do it in sensitive areas -- not drilling offshore in Alaska where the fisheries might be in danger; and in some states, we should listen to what they’re saying.”
McCain frequently points to President Theodore Roosevelt as his hero because Roosevelt was a reformer known for taking on powerful interests, and he was a conservationist and an internationalist.
During the speech to Republicans for Environmental Protection, Roosevelt praised McCain’s environmental record. He highlighted the facts that McCain opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, opposed subsidies for corn-based ethanol and was a leader in fighting global warming.
“I hope what we heard last night in the convention center -- drill, baby, drill -- isn’t taken to an extreme,” he said.
Roosevelt was a Navy SEAL, former State Department foreign service officer and is currently a managing director of Lehman Brothers, a financial services firm.
Palin, the governor of Alaska, presents a different set of issues for environmentalists.
Unlike McCain, Palin is a big supporter of drilling in ANWR. Further, Palin’s administration is challenging the Bush administration’s decision to declare polar bears an endangered species.
“As governor of the state of Alaska, I can understand why she might want to drill in the ANWR,” Roosevelt told CNSNews.com. “Assuming she becomes vice president, she represents constituents of 50 states and drilling in the ANWR refuge is something that she shouldn’t do, and I hope she backs away from that when she is representing a much broader constituency.”
Roosevelt added, “Polar bears, I’m afraid the scientific evidence there is overwhelming. They should be put on the endangered species list.”