In the wake of the massive BP oil spill, Senate Republicans are disowning the catchphrase “Drill, Baby, Drill,” claiming that Republicans never endorsed it. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) attempted to distance themselves and their party from the phrase yesterday, pretending not to know who popularized it, and dismissing the slogan as something from “two, three years ago”:
“That was not a Senate Republican phrase,” Kyl said. “I think there was a candidate that used that. I think our phrase was ‘drill here, drill now,’ meaning here in the United States and as quickly as oil and gas leases are going.”
Roberts said Republicans were always uneasy with the catchphrase.
“I don’t know about the slogan. The slogan was what, two, three years ago and basically we had a lot of opposition to it anyway.”
It seems hard to believe that Kyl couldn’t think of which “candidate” used the phrase. It was GOP presidential nominee John McCain, who happened to be a Republican senator. He and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin made the slogan the “Republican battle cry” of the 2008 campaign, and Palin repeatedly trumpeted the catchphrase. She even corrected Vice President Biden during their debate when he misquoted the slogan, telling him, “The chant is ‘drill, baby, drill.’” McCain, meanwhile, told a crowd chanting the phrase, “you’re right, pal. Drill, baby, drill. Drill offshore and drill now.”
Moreover, there didn’t seem to be much “opposition” to the slogan when future-Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele introduced it at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Activists immediately began chanting the slogan, and erupted in chants of “drill, baby, drill” throughout the event, egged on by leaders like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The chant even interrupted McCain’s speech at points.
And the slogan has hardly been abandoned, as Roberts implied it had. Just over a month ago, McCain and Palin each tweeted the phrase. Palin also used it in a speech as recently as April, and wrote in a November 2009 op-ed, “There’s no getting around the fact that we still need to ‘drill, baby, drill!’”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said yesterday that Palin’s slogan has been embarrassing for his GOP colleagues since the spill. “I’ve gone up to a few senators who’ve been for drilling and I have sarcastically said to them in a whisper, ‘Drill, baby drill,’ ” Nelson said. “And they roll their eyes as if in mock horror at the possibilities of what could happen as a result of this disaster,” he added.