Raleigh, N.C. — As the federal government opens a criminal probe into the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a new television ad by an advocacy group blasts Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for taking campaign contributions from British Petroleum.
Burr on Tuesday dismissed the criticism of his taking money from BP.
"The American people are smart enough to look and see the president took more money from BP than Richard Burr. I took the nominal amount," he said.
Burr said he is as disgusted and frustrated by the spill as everyone else. Still, he said he's confident that oil engineers – not government – will find a way to stop it.
"They'll be plenty for government to do once we stop the flow of oil, particularly where the environmental implications are concerned. The world is watching to figure out how we resolve this," he said.
As he travels the state, he said, many constituents talk to him about health care reform. Most either want to repeal the law President Barack Obama recently signed, or they want to make significant changes to it, he said.
"It's going to cause an increase in the annual premium of every existing private insurance policy somewhere between 8 and 15 percent by the most conservative estimates," he said.
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham are in a June 22 runoff election to determine who will face Burr in November. Regardless of whom Democrats choose in the runoff, Burr said he knows he has a tough race for re-election.
"The concern of North Carolinians makes me a target in the red area of the bull's eye because I'm an incumbent," he said, adding that it only makes him more focused.
"I really believe, over the next 18 months, that the decisions that are made at the national level will dictate for decades the path of this country and the prosperity of this country," he said. "So, I see the next 18 months as the most pivotal in my adult life and, more importantly, in my service in Washington."