ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) may have issued an apology for railing against the White House last week for its treatment of oil company BP, but his comments continued to play out in the political universe over the weekend, with both Democrats and Republicans trying to use them for their advantage.
On Sunday White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told ABC’s Jake Tapper that Barton’s comments were not just off the cuff remarks but representative of the mindset of the Republican Party.
“That's not a political gaffe, those were prepared remarks. That is a philosophy,” Emanuel said on ABC’s This Week. “That is an approach to what they see. They see the aggrieved party here is BP, not the fishermen.”
Former Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin took to Twitter to push back against Emanuel’s comments.
“RahmEmanuel= as shallow/narrowminded/political/irresponsible as they come,to falsely claim Barton's BP comment is "GOP philosophy"Rahm,u lie,” Palin crammed into a 140-character message on the social networking site.
Barton said in a House hearing last week that he was “ashamed” by the deal brokered between the Obama Administration and BP to set up a $20 billion compensation fund for Gulf Coast residents affected by the oil spill.
"It's a tragedy that private corporation can be subjected to a shakedown,” Barton said on Thursday. He called the escrow account “a $20 billion slush fund unprecedented in American history.”
While some Republicans distanced themselves from Barton’s comments last week – House Minority Leader John Boehner said he disagreed with the Texas lawmaker –not everyone in the party disagreed with the sentiment behind his statement.
The Republican Study Committee, a conservative group in the House with over 100 members, issued a statement last week dismissing the Obama administration’s push for a compensation fund as “Chicago-style shakedown politics.”
““BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House’s new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics,” a statement from the group read.
Emanuel called Barton’s comments “a political gift” for Democrats and the White House, who have certainly been making hay of them to illustrate what would happen if Republicans were to win back the majority in the House in November.
“You can say it's a political gift for us, and it is,” Emanuel said on ABC’s This Week. “But it's dangerous for the American people, because while the ranking Republican would have oversight into the energy industry, and if the Republicans were the majority, would have actually the gavel and the chairmanship.”