Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul declined to endorse Rep. Joe Barton's position that the Obama administration shook down executives at BP by forcing them to set up a $20 billion escrow account for victims of the oil spill they caused.
But the Tea Party darling offered his sympathies for the Texas Republican, noting that he too understands what it's like to be at the bottom of a political pile-on. And in a re-airing of a critique he made weeks earlier, he accused the White House of taking too tough a tone with the oil giant.
"I don't know about that," Paul said, when asked about Barton's statement during an appearance on WVLK-AM radio on Friday. "I don't want to pile on him... I know what that feels like. What I will say is I have never liked the tone of the president when he said things or his administration says things like he is going to put the boot on the throat of BP... If we put BP out of business, they can't pay for the cleanup."
Emerging from relative silence since his rocky general election roll-out, Paul stressed that BP "should be responsible for cleaning up" the mess it created. He did not explicitly address the role that government had to play in compelling the oil giant to do that.
"Lets not convict them before we give them a chance to figure out where the problem came from," Paul said.
Asked specifically if Barton should resign, Paul confessed to having no opinion, save to offer his sympathies once more.
"I'm not really in a position to know about what they should do to him personally. I do know what it is like to be piled on," he said. "I do know that people sometimes can go over the top and I think he should be given the chance to explain himself."