Top Obama aide marshals Dems to pressure Barton to resign committee spot

One of President Barack Obama's top political advisors called this weekend for a top House Republican to resign a plum committee spot, and marshaled Democrats to join in that campaign.

David Plouffe, the manager of Obama's presidential campaign, called on supporters to flood local radio stations with calls for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) to step down as ranking member of a top committee after Barton apologized to the CEO of BP during a hearing this week.

"Barton should apologize to the people of the Gulf and he should step down as the highest-ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee," Plouffe wrote in an email to members of Organizing for America (OFA), the president's political arm.

"Calling your local radio station is one of the best ways you can help us show Republicans that they weren't elected to defend big oil," Plouffe said.

Barton has been under consistent fire since apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the way the government had treated the oil company, particularly in compelling it to establish a $20 billion escrow account to pay out damages to victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Democrats have seized on those comments and sought to turn them into a top political issue this election cycle. They have sought to tie all Republicans to Barton's remarks through many lawmakers' membership in the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which has also been critical of the relief fund.

Republican leaders in the House, however, have been sharply critical of Barton's remarks, and threatened to strip him of his top position on the committee until he apologized.

Democrats said that Plouffe's email would engage the party's popular radio call-in initiaitive, which would help keep the heat on Barton.

"We need to show that the American people support holding BP accountable -- and we won't apologize for doing so," Plouffe wrote. "Will you call your local radio station to help to help us spread that message?"

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