Emanuel Casts Barton Apology as GOP Philosophy

Posted June 20, 2010 at 11:59am

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel seized on a recent apology from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) to BP on Sunday, calling it an indication of Republicans’ “governing philosophy.”

“That’s not a political gaffe, those are prepared remarks. That is a philosophy. That is an approach. They see the aggrieved party here as BP,” Emanuel said on ABC’s “This Week,” later adding: “Elections are about choices. There’s a difference in our philosophies.”

But Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) fought the allegation, saying he thought that Barton made a “dumb statement.”

“The Congressman only spoke for himself,” Shelby said. “That is not mainstream Republican policy.”

Barton apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayworth on Thursday for President Barack Obama’s pressure on the oil giant to put $20 billion in an escrow account to fund the claims of those affected by BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Within a few hours, Barton recanted his apology for what he had called a $20 billion “shakedown.”

On Sunday, Emanuel linked Barton’s comment with the recent assertion by Rand Paul, the Republican nominee in the Senate race in Kentucky, that the government’s treatment of BP is “un-American.” Such comments, he said, show that Republicans favor the input of big companies over other stakeholders.

“In case you forgot what Republican governance is like, Joe Barton just reminded you,” Emanuel said.

Republican leaders have distanced themselves from Barton’s comments, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed criticism of Republican candidates such as Paul and Sharron Angle, the GOP nominee challenging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.

“The Democrats, of course, will be desperately trying to tear down and demonize our candidates because they’re in deep trouble,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “America would like to do a midcourse correction.”

On “This Week,” Emanuel was also asked about allegations that the White House offered jobs to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff to persuade them to drop primary challenges to Sens. Arlen Specter and Michael Bennet. But Emanuel was mostly tight-lipped.

The White House counsel and two attorneys who served under former President George W. Bush have reported that nothing illegal happened, he added.

“There’s nothing more that needs to be added to that,” Emanuel said.