Obama administration blasts BP as Hayward takes to yacht
The Obama administration continued to blast BP Saturday as news that chief executive Tony Hayward took a break to attend yacht races caused a further public relations debacle for the British oil giant, dpa reported.
Images of Hayward at the yacht races in Britain incited outrage among residents of the Gulf coast and in the blogosphere Saturday, and prompted further criticism from the White House.
"Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he's got his life back, as he would say," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview with ABC News set to air Sunday, echoing earlier remarks by the BP chief that he wanted his life back after weeks devoted to the disaster. The comments had been called insensitive to the families of those who died in the April 20 Deepwater Horizons rig explosion and to others hurt by the spill.
"And I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting. This has just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes."
"But, beyond that photo," Emanuel said in advance excerpts of the interview released Saturday. "There's really a substance here that matters. That's clearly a PR mistake, but he's made a number of those mistakes. What's important is: are we capping the well? Are we capturing the oil? Are we containing the cleanup? Are we filing the claims? Are we also cleaning up the mess? That's what's important."
On Friday, the energy giant's chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg announced in a TV interview that the embattled Hayward would be relieved of the day-to-day handling of the enormous response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
But some confusion over who was in charge remained, and Saturday the New York Times reported Hayward still remained in charge and the day-to-day handling of the massive spill would be taken on only gradually by BP managing director Robert Dudley.
Separately, Obama took on the Republican opposition Saturday in his weekly radio address, calling on them to vote on a bill to lift a cap on the amount of money oil companies like BP must pay to those who suffer economic losses because of a spill.
Americans "deserve an up or down vote on legislation that would hold oil companies accountable for the disasters they cause a vote that is also being blocked by the Republican leadership in the Senate," Obama said. "Right now, the law places a 75-million-dollar cap on the amount oil companies must pay to families and small businesses who suffer economic losses as a result of a spill like the one we're witnessing in the Gulf Coast. We should remove that cap."