BP Oil Spill Politics: Eyes On Louisiana Vitter, Melancon
Written by  // Monday, 19 July 2010 14:16 //

steve_sabludowsky01With the Louisiana U.S.  Senate  race approaching, two of the candidates running for that spot are beginning to receive national publicity--as if this election really needs it.   

This is occuring in part because the election is somewhat tight with the entry of new candidates who want to take on David Vitter. It is also occuring because of the tremendous  news story--the BP oil spill.  

On Sunday, republican  Vitter appeared in front of Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.  On Monday, his major opponent, democrat Charlie Melancon appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”.

The topic?  On both occasions, the oil spill and its overflow—the Gulf of Mexico deep water drilling moratorium.

Vitter appeared with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser on Fox.

The Fox News segment made various national and political news accountings afterwards for what was said and for what was not said.

On Fox, the main issue was Senator Vitter’s criticism of President Barack Obama-- as has been the senator's main campaign theme this past year.   

Vitter (R-La.) told "Fox News Sunday" that Obama is focusing too much on concealing the BP oil spill, rather than the clean-up.”

Vitter said, "I'm afraid he's decided to deal with this issue, at least politically, by not coming back here and trying to move it off the front page rather than dealing with the situation forcefully.  

Wallace then responded asking if Senator Vitter believes “they” (the Obama Administration) “are trying to sweep it under the rug, now?   

Vitter then replied, “I get the impression that is the president’s motivation in dealing with this.  He was coming here on a pretty regular basis trying to deal with the issue personally, he has not done that in Louisiana since June 4th. “

Nungesser was then asked if he feels the federal government is now moving more quickly, and effectively?.

The Parish president said that over the past two weeks, there has been an improvement.  He cited the fact that James Lee Witt, the Head of FEMA, under President Clinton, has been dealing with BP.

It was then democrat Congressman Charlie  Melancon’s turn on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”

Ioncerning the reported leak from the gulf shore’s bedrock, the Louisiana representative said that Thad Allen needs to gauge the oil and “keep it from blowing the bedrock out”

When questioned about how the nation can trust offshore drilling after the BP incident, Melancon said  
“BP has proven to be a “bad Player” and that you don’t fault an entire industry due to actions of one company.

Again, when questioned about the apparent inconsistencies of being  in the center of the damage coming from the spill, yet, wanting the  moratorium  to end, "Melancon  admitted that many of his fellow members of Congress do not understand why a state that has been hit so hard by the oil spill could also oppose the moratorium.   Melancon responded that the oil industry and seafood industry were intertwined.

Also, Melancon said he had supported the stimulus and did not want to see the serious economic crises that occurred in South Louisiana during the 1980’s but he is now afraid the same could occur with the moratorium.

What Others are saying…
Ben  Smith from Politico had this to say about the Fox News—Vitter encounter

“Senator David Vitter made a rare foray into contact with the news media yesterday on Fox News Sunday, where he -- rather astonishingly -- didn't take a single question on his new Republican challenger, on the knife-wielding staffer who has damaged his campaign, or on any of his other woes.
A Fox spokeswoman, Irena Briganti, didn't immediately respond to an email asking whether the network had agreed in advance to limit its questions to the oil spill in the Gulf.”

“I think Democrats should be rooting for a 51-49 Vitter victory. Vitter's under performing in the polls right now for a Republican in Louisiana, given how unpopular Barack Obama is in the state. The small chance Democrats have at winning the race would probably evaporate to zero if the GOP's candidate didn't have Vitter's baggage. But Democrats need Vitter to be more bloodied up than he is already, and if Traylor can do that without actually winning Charlie Melancon might just have a chance this fall.”
Public Policy Polling

Other Columns by Stephen Sabludowsky

  1. BP Oil Spill: Obama’s Gulf Deep Water Drilling Halt Should Get Out The Way
  2. Gulf Oil Moratorium Case Defines BP Oil Spill Federal Response
  3. Louisiana Politics: Melancon vs. Vitter Election and BP Oil Spill

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