(CNN) – Republicans are continuing to put pressure on President Barack Obama for not speaking directly with BP CEO Tony Hayward during the ongoing oil crisis in the Gulf Coast.
Speaking on Fox News, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Wednesday that he doesn't understand why the president is apparently willing to talk face-to-face with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but not Hayward. In a 2007 presidential debate sponsored by CNN, Obama suggested he would be open to meeting with Ahmadinejad, a comment that drew heavy criticism from his Democratic and Republican opponents. Obama later said that he is willing to meet with Iranian leaders, and that such a meeting "could include" Ahmadinejad.
"I don't get it - you tell the American people that you want to sit down and talk face-to-face with Ahmadinejad, but you don't want to talk face-to-face with the guy that has a hand in creating the mess in the Gulf right now, and to try to figure out from him what needs to get done," said Steele.
The comments come a day after Obama told NBC he has not spoken with Hayward because "when you talk to a guy like a BP CEO, he's gonna say all the right things to me – I'm not interested in words, I'm interested in actions."
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took a swipe Tuesday night at Obama for his remarks about Hayward, writing on her Facebook page that he should take a more active role in consulting experts who lived during the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill – including her. Palin was 25 years-old at the time of that spill and writes in her book that "most everyone we knew was directly affected, knew someone affected, or went to help clean up the spill."
Speaking on Fox, Steele said it is imperative Obama speak with Hayward "to impress on him what you as the president of the United States think he as the CEO of B.P. should be