House Dems irked at White House

July 15, 2010 at 10:25 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- House Democrats say months of backing risky White House initiatives deserve more support in their re-election bids than they're getting from President Obama.

Some House Democrats also accused administration officials of undermining the party's chances of retaining a majority in the November elections, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The tipping point came Tuesday during a meeting of House Democrats, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's comments that the House majority was in doubt and "strong campaigns by Democrats" were necessary to avoid dramatic losses, participants said.

"What the hell do they think we've been doing the last 12 months? We're the ones who have been taking the tough votes," Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., said told the Post Wednesday.

Attempting to assuage their concerns, Obama met privately with House Democratic leaders Wednesday to reassure them of his support. Aides said the meeting focused on the agenda in the run-up to the elections.

Political insiders said Gibbs's remarks, while provocative, were on target as analysts estimate about 60 Democratic House seats are in jeopardy. Republicans need a net gain of 39 to claim the majority.

The Post said interviews with more than 10 lawmakers and senior aides from liberal and conservative districts indicated many House Democrats at the Tuesday gathering shared Pascrell's and Pelosi's dissatisfaction.

While grousing that the White House is disrespectful -- such as waiting until the last minute to announce a Cabinet official's appearance in their districts for a speech or to announce a government grant -- what really riles them is that they've repeatedly supported Obama's agenda then felt abandoned when the legislation was watered down in the Senate, the Post said.

"The Democrats have overreached, and that's one reason why there are so many races in play," said Rep. Chet Edwards of Texas, a centrist facing a tough re-election bid. "Rahm Emanuel knows as well as anyone the challenges moderate and conservative Democrats face in their districts. I think there are some, in the administration and in Congress, who don't fully understand the political dynamics."

Topics: Robert Gibbs
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