White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is defending remarks he made during a national TV interview Sunday in which he acknowledged Republicans could take control of the House of Representatives this November.
Responding to a reporter’s question Monday during his regular White House press briefing, Gibbs says he only “stated the obvious.”
Gibbs appeared Sunday on the NBC program Meet The Press, in which he remarked that there is “no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control.”
Democrats are heading into the 2010 midterm elections facing an electorate in a highly anti-incumbent mood and having to defend nearly 50 seats in districts won by Republican John McCain in 2008. Republicans need to pick up 39 seats to flip control back to the GOP. Democrats re-took the House in the 2006 elections, and expanded their majority in 2008.
Republicans are hoping for a re-run of 1994, in which they won a stunning 54 seats in the first midterm election during the presidency of Bill Clinton, the last Democrat to occupy the White House. The results that year handed the GOP the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years. Republicans held the House until Democrats ousted them in 2006, electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the first female House speaker in history.
In his Monday briefing, Gibbs scoffed at the notion his comments on Meet The Press ought to be newsworthy.
“I do not believe that you all are now scurrying around to cover this election markedly different based on my having said that there are a number of seats that are in play,” Gibbs told the assembled press.
“I think — understand this: I think this is going to be an election where, as I said yesterday during my answer, there will be a choice. There’s going to be a choice about whether you want an economy that looked like the last six months of 2008, or the last six months of this year,” Gibbs says.
“You’re going to have a choice between the leadership that we have now and the leadership that believes that BP should be apologized to first and foremost, and that the type of calamity wrought by the financial meltdown in the end of 2008 is analogous to the size of an ant,” he adds, referring to recent comments by Republican Reps. Joe Barton of Texas, and John Boehner of Ohio, respectively. “Those are choices that the American people are going to get a chance to hear and make in November.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.