The Obama administration was "asleep at the switch" and failed to monitor offshore drilling activities properly, then responded ineffectively as the scope of the oil spill in Gulf of Mexico emerged, California GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina charged in an exclusive interview.
“I am stunned that we have visuals all of the time where it kind of looks like nothing is going on,” Fiorina told Newsmax. “You know, the last couple of pictures I have seen of President Obama walking along the beach looking at tar balls, it doesn’t look like a beehive of activity to me and I think those images are really troubling.”
President Obama's address to the nation Tuesday night detailed the administration's response to the growing plume of oil fouling the Gulf.
Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, is seeking to unseat Democrat incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer.
In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Fiorina questioned the effectiveness of the administration's clean-up response.
“It is the federal government’s responsibility to protect the shoreline and in this regard I think that the government has not demonstrated a lot of competence,” Fiorina said. “When we find out that there are 26 separate federal agencies involved in this, you know that’s not working well.
“You know that you have a series of bureaucracies that are not coordinating. When we hear that equipment that could be used to clean up the spill is sitting in warehouses the federal government isn’t doing an efficient and effective job. We have local officials begging for assistance and not getting it,” Fiorina said.
Tuesday afternoon, the administration was forced yet again to recalculate the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf.
Last week, the leak was estimated at 20,000 to 40,000 barrels a day, although officials acknowledged at the time they were working with outdated information.
Tuesday, the administration upped that estimate to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels daily. At the high end, that would mean 2.52 million of gallons of crude are bleeding into the Gulf each day.
The oil spill is at least seven times greater than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, and is generally acknowledged as the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Crude oil from the destroyed BP oil rig Deep Horizon continued to wash up on beaches and sensitive wetlands Tuesday, crippling lucrative fishing and tourism-related industries.
Polls strongly suggest voters agree with Fiorina's assessment.
On Tuesday, an Associated Press-GfK poll showed that 52 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's management of the oil spill — up 15 percent from one month ago.
On both sides of the political aisle, pressure and criticism are mounting. Public officials from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have called for greater relief from after-effects of spill.
Commentators say Obama may have reached a critical turning point in his presidency.
Critics contend the tour and Tuesday's speech, Obama's first from the Oval Office, are designed to reverse the falling poll numbers while laying the groundwork for a renewed push to pass clean-energy legislation through the Senate.
Republican leaders complained Tuesday afternoon that the president is trying to use the oil spill as a pretext to push cap-and-trade energy legislation. They also called for him to end the moratorium on deep-water drilling.
"This job killing ban on drilling is causing more problems right now than the oil [spill] long term because it's threatening over 40,000 jobs," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said, according to Politico.com. "It's starting to already have reverberating, crippling effects to our economy and it doesn’t do anything to cap the well and to actually address the problems of the oil coming onto our shore."
Aside from the devastating oil spill, the biggest political danger sign for Obama's handlers is the recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that found most Americans believe the federal government’s response to the Gulf oil spill is worse than its response to Hurricane Katrina.
The criticism is bipartisan, too. Fifty-six percent of Democrats and 81 percent of Republicans give Team Obama negative ratings on the issue. The more worrisome consideration for Democrats heading into the midterm elections, however, is that 74 percent of crucial independent voters say the Obama administration is doing a poor job.
Fiorina added that the backlash against the administration is well deserved.
A staunch critic of bloated government bureaucracy, the former corporate executive says BP and the other companies involved in the disaster should be held accountable for negligence or inaction that contributed to the accident.
But she also blames government regulators who failed to properly oversee the rig and enforce safety controls and standards.
“It now turns out that [the U.S. Minerals Management Service], the regulators, wasn’t doing their job, was asleep at the switch, and was in bed with the industry literally,” Fiorina said. “There are lots of problems here and we got to get to the bottom of all of them. BP is at fault. The regulators are at fault. And the government isn’t being effective enough in its response.”
Fiorina, a multimillionaire who received wide exposure as a chief surrogate for the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., cruised to victory in last week’s GOP primary. She defeated a tea party conservative and a moderate republican challenger.
She now has her sights set on beating the three-term Democrat incumbent Boxer.
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