Gibbs Defends Obama’s Efforts to Help House Democrats

Posted September 2, 2010 at 5:14pm

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Thursday defended President Barack Obama’s track record of campaigning for House Democrats as new polling shows their party taking a nose dive.

The latest round of polls paints a grim picture for Democrats heading into elections: University of Virginia political handicapper Larry Sabato projected Thursday that Republicans will pick up 47 seats in the House, eight more than they need to take control, while Time magazine’s Mark Halperin predicted last week that the GOP could sweep as many as 60 House seats. A new Gallup poll also shows Republicans with an unprecedented lead in the generic ballot test.

Asked why Obama did not spend much of the August recess on the campaign trail for Democrats, Gibbs maintained that the president has been “fairly active in both campaigning and in raising money” for his party. He said there is only so much that Obama can do, given the host of issues that will influence voters’ decisions in November.

“In a lot of these races, there are issues that are not going to be decided either in support of or opposition to the president,” Gibbs told reporters during a briefing.

The White House spokesman also insisted that Obama’s top priority is the economy, despite the president turning his attention to other major issues this week, namely ending combat operations in Iraq and relaunching Middle East peace talks.

“Because the president is giving a speech on Iraq does not mean that the president isn’t dealing with the economy,” Gibbs said. “There’s been a sense of urgency about the economy since the moment we walked in here.”

Obama is expected to make a public statement Friday in response to new job figures due out earlier in the day. He is also headlining an event in Milwaukee and another in Cleveland next week to talk about the economy, and he will hold a news conference at the White House on Sept. 10.