Democrats sought Tuesday to capitalize on what they saw as "the best stretch for the White House on the oil spill since the saga began" with a new TV ad going after Republicans.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) released an ad to run on national cable this week featuring Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) controversial apology to BP for the way the oil company has been treated by the government.
The ad, "How They Would Govern," looks to keep alive the Barton controversy and features several other clips of House Republicans criticizing the way the government has treated BP, namely by forcing it to set up a $20 billion fund to pay out damages to the victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
"This has been the best stretch for the White House on the oil spill since the saga began," said a Democratic strategist. "It's working for Obama and Democrats not because it was a colossal gaffe, but because it is tangible confirmation of what the electorate already feels about the GOP — that it's in the pockets of Big Oil, Big Insurance, big Wall Street banks at the expense of the little guy."
Democrats have sought as much mileage as they can possibly manage out of the Barton remarks, which came last Thursday during a hearing with BP CEO Tony Hayward and which most other top Republicans have explicitly repudiated.
The White House, Democrats in Congress and the party's campaign committees have been working furiously to push the Barton message with a series of releases since the original ad and with a steady stream of TV and radio campaigns.
Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Barton's remarks and, unsurprisingly, have rejected Democrats' characterization of the Texas lawmaker's statement as representative of the GOP. Indeed, Barton's position as the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is seen as anything but safe going into the next Congress, when he'd have to receive a waiver from the conference in order to continue in that role.
Either way, Democrats saw a golden opportunity in the Barton gaffe, and felt driven to release the second ad attacking Republicans after a flood of small-dollar donations they claimed over the weekend.
"We can now show it over and over and over again on TV," the Democratic Party strategist said. "When the weight of the world was on the shoulders of Gulf Coast residents and businesses, Republicans stood with the corporate giant that caused their problems to begin with. Can Americans really ever count on Republicans to stand with them against the big banks, payday lenders, health insurance companies and the like? The answer, to quote John Boehner: 'Hell, no, you can't.'"
View the new ad below: