‘The BP 114’

‘THE BP 114’…. Democrats have made no secret of the fact that they want to keep exploiting Republican support for BP as the midterm elections draw closer. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and his infamous apology are clearly at the forefront of the effort, but also keep an eye on “The BP 114.”

As we talked about last week, even before Barton started groveling to BP CEO Tony Hayward, the Republican Study Committee issued a statement condemning the White House for securing a $20 billion relief fund for Gulf Coast families and businesses, calling it a “Chicago-style political shakedown.” The Republican Study Committee didn’t extend an apology to BP, but in every other way, the RSC’s statement was just as outrageous as Barton’s. Indeed, they used largely the same language.

The Republican Study Committee has 114 House members, so the goal for Dems is to tie the pro-BP sentiment to each of the contingent’s members. And thus “The BP 114” was born.

“While a Republicans criticized Barton once he became a PR problem, not a single member disagreed with the RSC attack on the accountability fund which happened the day before Barton’s comments,” noted DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan.

To that end, the DNC sent out emails to the districts of the 114 members of the committee, which included tools allowing recipients to easily call local radio stations and express opinions on the members. The DNC also started running Google ads redirecting users who search for members of the committee to a Democratic-hosted page criticizing RSC members for their views on the oil spill.

If House Republicans are smart, they’ll take the talking point away from Democrats, and formally distance themselves from the Republican Study Committee’s BP-sympathizing statement. If RSC members say they disagree with their contingent’s attack, it’ll be tough for Dems to go after all of the group’s members.

But either way, Dems like the hand they’re playing — if Republican Study Committee members stand by the group’s statement, they’re taking BP’s side at an inopportune time. If RSC members denounce their own group’s line, Dems are sowing seeds of division among Republicans.