Venice, Louisiana (CNN) - Frustrated Louisiana officials Sunday demanded the federal government approve their plans to dredge up walls of sand to protect delicate inland estuaries from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
"Either the Coast Guard has to side with its American citizens and protect its communities, or it has to side with a major world corporation named BP and betray American citizens in that process," St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro told reporters.
With oil sloshing ashore along the state's barrier islands and seeping into marshes around the mouth of the Mississippi River, state and parish leaders want to use dredges to close channels between the Gulf and the coastal estuaries. But they said those plans have been held up by the Army Corps of Engineers and the agencies in charge of the spill response, including the Coast Guard and BP, the company responsible for the spill.
Related: Federal frustration grows over oil spill
A BP cleanup worker lays out an oil-soaked boom on an Elmer's Island, Louisiana beach Sunday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) - Saying BP has "from day one, frankly not fulfilled the mission it was supposed to fulfill," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressed frustration Sunday with the delay in stopping an underwater oil gusher 33 days after an oil rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I have no question that BP is throwing everything at the problem," Salazar said. "Do I have confidence that they know exactly what they're doing? No."
Watch: 'I am not confident in BP,' Salazar says
But he and other federal officials likened the task to an "Apollo 13" mission. Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, told reporters that while BP has failed to meet its own schedule for stopping the gusher, their schedule was probably not feasible from the outset, given that the tasks involve construction, mobilizing equipment and fabricating new devices.
"I think everyone has to understand that the kinds of operations they're doing in the deep sea have never been done before," said McNutt, who is helping lead a team of scientists from the Department of Energy, NASA and others in helping find a solution to the leak.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes (Turn and Face the Strain)
Fave Sunday quote from Minnesota Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty offering his advice to incumbents: “…be for change.”
But not too much change because there was that whole dreadful business when newbie pol and freshly minted Republican senatorial candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky got all tangled up in his feelings about the 1965 Civil Rights Act, forcing his new best buddies in the GOP to react. It was so bad by week’s end that Paul cancelled his appearance on “Meet the Press.”
He can run, but his new best buddies can’t hide. Doing the Sunday tap dance around Rand Paul:
RNC Chief Michael Steele: “I don’t vote in that state.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) “applauded” Paul for “clarifying his views.”
Gov. Pawlenty: “unfortunate.”
Sarah Palin advised Paul not to assume he can engage in “hypothetical discussion… with a media personality who has an agenda,” something Paul may have figured out by now.
Unhelpful, at least for the GOP, was Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pennsylvania) who chirply noted that Mr. Paul’s predicament neatly fits into his belief that Tea Party candidates will be easier to beat this fall. Also bullish on November, DNC chief Tim Kaine, who predicted Dems will keep both houses. His crystal ball leaned heavily on the results of Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district last Tuesday.
Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak said again Sunday that the Obama administration offered him a job in an attempt to stop him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter, who switched parties last year. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Washington (CNN) - Rep. Joe Sestak says he was offered an unspecified job by the White House in an attempt to stop him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Senate Democratic primary.
Sestak, who defeated the veteran Specter in last week's primary election for the Democratic nomination, answered "yes" Sunday when asked by CNN about the White House offer. Sestak has previously acknowledged the offer in other interviews.
However, Sestak refused to provide any further details "about something that happened months earlier," saying "beyond that, there's nothing to add."
Washington (CNN) – In the wake of Rand Paul’s win last week in Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, both national parties are trying to figure out just what to make of the Tea Party movement, the conservative, grassroots movement that backed Paul and has coalesced in opposition to policies of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.
Democrats and Republicans disagree on the impact of the movement, and those differences were on display Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pennsylvania, defined the movement as “the anger that people feel towards incumbency” and added that “it has some power particularly in Republican primaries.”
But Rendell was quick to dismiss any suggestion that the conservative movement could help the GOP best Democrats in general election face-offs. Pointing to Democrats’ victory last Tuesday in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district, the Democratic governor said “the Tea Party was not a factor in that election at all” even though PA-12 has a track record, in Rendell’s words, of being “a Republican-performing district.”
Instead of fearing the Tea Party movement’s impact on Democrats, Rendell said the grassroots movement may be doing a disservice to the GOP.
The movement “is a difficulty for the Republican Party,” Rendell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Rendell pointed to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (who decided to skip his state’s GOP Senate primary and run without a party affiliation) and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (who did so poorly at a recent state convention that he did not even make it to the GOP primary) as casualties of the Tea Party movement’s fervor.
And the Democratic pol said the Tea Party movement’s influence in GOP primaries will help Democrats this November.
“I think the Tea Party movement candidates are going to be more easy to beat in a general election. I think that’s the case with Rand Paul,” Rendell told Crowley.
For his part, Minnesota’s Republican governor said he was glad to have the Tea Party movement affiliated with the GOP, despite its potential pitfalls.
Washington (CNN) - Rand Paul backed out of his Sunday morning talk show appearance, but that didn't stop people from talking about him.
Paul, the Tea Party-backed eye doctor who won Kentucky's Republican Senate primary last week, cited exhaustion as well as a desire to put behind him controversy over his comments on the Civil Rights Act in deciding against a previously scheduled appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," according to host David Gregory.
Gregory also said Paul's spokesman issued a statement saying Paul wanted to avoid the "liberal bias" of the media.
Paul, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has said he opposes racism but believes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was too expansive in dictating that privately-owned businesses must serve all customers. He later said he supported the landmark legislation but continued to question what he called the excessive role of government in the lives of U.S. citizens.
Most fellow Republicans characterized the issue as a mistake by a rookie politician, but Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who is African-American and is trying to broaden the party's support among minorities, said it involved a personal philosophy that "got in the way of reality."
Washington (CNN) – One of the possible contenders for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nod has some guidance for incumbents running in 2010’s tough, anti-establishment political environment.
“I think the best advice for anybody running is to be for change,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Wearing the hat of a political strategist for a few moments, the Republican governor parsed the current political climate which is toppling incumbents in Congress even before November’s midterm general election.
“It’s not just anti-incumbent. It’s what that incumbency represents. It represents a commitment to – or a sense of a commitment – to a flawed past, flawed strategies, out-of-control spending, out-of-control deficits, an economy that has not yet recovered … is sputtering.
“So that’s not just against incumbents. It’s dissatisfaction with the substance underneath it and it really relates profoundly to the economy,” Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty is widely considered by political observers to be laying the groundwork for a White House bid in 2012. His term as Minnesota’s chief executive is up early next year and in the past two weeks he has emerged victorious in a budget stand-off with the state’s Democratically controlled legislature.