Republicans hope that they will be able to make hay over recent statements by top Democratic standard-bearers that seem to underestimate consumer anger over high gas prices.
Republicans are gleefully attacking statements made recently by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) that they believe are out of step with consumers furious over rising gas prices.
For his part, Reid created a YouTube stir when a clip of an interview he taped with Fox Business News on Monday temporarily became the sites most popular video. In it, the Majority Leader says: Coal is making us sick. Oil is making us sick.
Reids comments referred to the allegedly unhealthy consequences of high concentrations of fuel and coal being released into the atmosphere, which can cause respiratory problems such as breathing and lung issues.
For months, Reid has been arguing that the Earth has a temperature because of global warming and as a result has been pushing for environmentally friendly policies.
An aide to the Majority Leader cited a study by the American Lung Association, which shows that high concentrations of coal in the air can have negative consequences.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has continued to slam Obama for saying that Americans would have preferred a gradual adjustment in the prices of gas rather than a dramatic, sudden spike.
Republicans believe the Democrats comments come at a perfect time for them as many GOPers indicate that public polling is shifting their way toward domestic energy exploration, including offshore drilling.
One GOP leadership aide described the series of Democratic moves as the latest installment in the gradual adjustment agenda, referring to Obamas comment and forecasting that Reids statements will likely become a part of the ongoing GOP public relations blitz against Democrats.
The GOP plan is to argue that Democrats are hiding behind the environmental consequences of oil exploration as an excuse to not pursue clean and efficient domestic production that would have a faster and greater effect on gasoline prices than any Democratic proposal.
Much like the GOP campaign against global warming legislation, Republicans are relishing the debate to directly take on the Majority Leader and hit him for Senate inaction on rising oil costs.
A Reid aide tried to play down the Nevada Senators words, saying they were thrown out of proportion. The aide said Reid could have explained himself better but that he nevertheless communicated the larger argument that coal has negative effects on both humans and the Earth.
The Republican aide scoffed at that explanation, contending that Reid is part of an effort that has focused incorrectly on solutions that do nothing for Americans that have to drive their kids to school and drive to work.