Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) is not backing down from his claim that President Obama was too hard on BP back during this summer’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On the campaign trail in March, Paul took heat for his statement that Obama’s rhetoric toward the energy giant in the wake of the disaster off the Louisiana coast was “un-American.” In what appear to be his first public comments about the spill since being handily elected Kentucky’s new Senator, Paul took a similar line to the one he did as a candidate.
“I didn’t like the language,” Paul said in an interview on CBS’ Face The Nation this morning. “I didn’t think the president or his people should say something like ‘putting a boot heel on the throat’ of a business. I didn’t like that.”
Paul was referring to a statement made by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar back in March, as oil was still flowing unfettered from an open hole in the ocean floor drilled by BP. As the Obama administration amped up its public response to the spill, Salazar told reporters that the government would keep its “boot on the throat” of the company to ensure that it did all it could to plug the leak.
Paul told CBS’ Bob Schieffer this morning that it wasn’t the idea of holding BP responsible he has quarrel with but rather the tone the administration took with the company, which he suggested may have offended the corporate community.
“[I]t sends the wrong signal that the government’s the enemy somehow of business,” Paul said. “We need to do everything we can to encourage business, because that’s where the jobs are created.”
Though he maintained his criticism of Obama’s handling of the BP spill, Paul did backpedal from other controversial comments about the disaster he made as a candidate. Referring to both the BP spill and a deadly coal mine collapse in Kentucky in the same March interview where he offered the “un-American” statement about the White House and BP, Paul cautioned that the government and media are sometimes too quick to cast blame on companies for the disasters that happen on their watch. Paul said the reaction from our “blame game society” to disasters is to make them “always someone’s fault.”
“Maybe sometimes accidents happen,” Paul said.
On Face The Nation today, Paul expressed regret for that comment, which drew the ire of coal miners and union workers in Kentucky and elsewhere.
“That was a poor choice of words,” Paul said. “My wife even told me, ‘that was a poor choice of words, you need to think [about] what you’re saying.”
Watch (BP talk begins around 7:20):