Emanuel on Barton and the GOP: 'They see the aggrieved party here as BP, not the fishermen.'

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asserted that Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP was a political gift for Democrats – one the President will use in coming weeks to contrast his governing vision with Republicans, with Barton as a foil.

Though the Ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce later withdrew the apology he made to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a hearing Thursday, Emanuel made the case that Barton’s remarks were no mistake. “That’s not a political gaffe, those are prepared remarks. That is a philosophy. That is an approach to what they see. They see the aggrieved party here as BP, not the fishermen,” Emanuel told me during my exclusive This Week interview.

Emanuel said Barton and Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul, who recently called the President’s criticism of BP “un-American,” are a reflection of the Republican Party’s governing philosophy. “They think that the government’s the problem,” Emanuel said. “And I think what Joe Barton did was remind the American people, in case they forgot, how the Republicans would govern.” The President, Emanuel said, will lay out his competing governing philosophy in speeches over the next several weeks focusing on energy policy, Wall Street reform and economic recovery.

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