Two days after she privately blasted a White House official’s comments as “politically inept,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted publicly that she is satisfied with President Barack Obama’s efforts to prevent Republicans from winning control of the House.
“There is absolutely no reason to think that the White House has been anything but cooperative with us in terms of our political efforts to retain control of the House,” the California Democrat told reporters Thursday at her weekly press conference.
The Speaker drew a distinction between Obama and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who suggested in a television interview Sunday that enough House seats were in play for Republicans to possibly win the majority in November. Pelosi said Gibbs’ comments had “nothing to do with what the president is doing and what the president is saying himself,” adding that House Democrats had “no better leader or advocate” than Obama leading into the midterms.
Although she did tell reporters that Gibbs’ comments were “unfortunate,” her tone was markedly subdued compared to accounts of a private caucus meeting Tuesday night. Sources said an irate Pelosi laid into Gibbs behind closed doors and, according to one account, described his comments as “politically inept.”
On Thursday, Pelosi clearly was trying to move past the comments, which she said should not distract Democrats’ efforts to create jobs.
“Members have some concerns about jobs,” she said. And those concerns — not Gibbs’ comments — were the focus of a Wednesday night meeting at the White House between Obama and top House Democrats, Pelosi said.
In a sign that Democrats could be trying to use Gibbs’ remarks to rally their base, Pelosi implicitly referenced Gibbs’ comments in a fundraising e-mail sent Thursday on her behalf by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which declared, “Democrats will keep control of the House. Period.” It also encouraged supporters to help meet a $1 million grass-roots fundraising goal.
“While some Washington pundits are claiming that Republicans have the momentum, I remain more confident in our chances for victory as long as we have our secret weapon — you,” Pelosi wrote.
Pelosi suggested to reporters that she was satisfied with the number of political events Obama has headlined for House candidates so far this session. A memo the White House circulated on Capitol Hill this week indicated the president has participated in four events this cycle benefitting nine House Democrats.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also downplayed tensions between House Democrats and the White House, describing the Wednesday night meeting with Obama and other top officials as “very constructive” and “positive.”
“Our interests are the same,” the Maryland Democrat said Thursday morning. “The president’s interests are seeing us re-elected. Our interest is seeing the president successful.”
Hoyer would not comment directly on whether Obama committed to any of the “asks” Pelosi reportedly brought to the meeting.
“We had a private discussion that was very constructive, and we’re all moving in the same direction,” he said.
Hoyer said Gibbs did not attend, and there was zero discussion of his recent comments or the flap surrounding them.
“Gibbs was not mentioned,” Hoyer said.