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Democrats Duel With White House Over November Prospects

“It’s just, to me, stunning that people with the level of sophistication these folks have would demonstrate one episode of ineptness after another for such a long period of time,” the lawmaker said, referring to White House officials. “Whether that’s ineptitude or disregard — I’m not sure which one it is — but it’s disconcerting to me.”

This Democrat added that if Obama really wants to help boost House Members’ re-election efforts, he needs to “stop talking about immigration” and “start focusing on the economy exclusively.”

Freshman Rep. Bobby Bright, who is running in one of them most competitive House races this year, said he was “disappointed” by Gibbs’ assessment and said it showed that White House officials do not understand the politics of districts like his.

“They need to come down and visit with me, get in my Ford F-150 and travel through my district and see how my folks respond to me as their Congressman,” the Alabama Democrat said, “not to me as a Democrat or a Republican, but to me as their Congressman.”

Bright called on Gibbs to come to his district and said he “would get a better assessment of who’s going to be in the majority in November. ... People should not stereotype all the races across the country.”

Freshman Rep. Steve Driehaus, also mired in a tight re-election campaign, wouldn’t say whether the White House has been helpful to vulnerable Democrats like him, noting only that he expects it “to be very supportive.”

“Why would we talk about this?” the Ohio Democrat asked. “It’s not helpful.”

A senior Democratic aide said Gibbs’ comments were not helpful to the “60 to 70 Members who have been under fire for the last year and a half” while carrying water for the administration.

The House has delivered on nearly every major initiative handed down by the president, the aide said, only to see “the spokesman for the leader of the party inartfully saying something that most people would know would be misunderstood and used for the other side.”

Gibbs has defended his Sunday comments, saying he didn’t think he said “anything that was politically shocking.”

Asked during Wednesday’s press briefing whether he felt he handed Republicans an issue, Gibbs replied, “No.”

But House Republican leaders are already treating the words as a gift: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) sought to fire up his colleagues at a Wednesday Republican Conference meeting by playing the video of Gibbs’ appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We now know what Nancy Pelosi had for breakfast,” Sessions told his fellow Republicans. To which one Member in the audience replied, “Robert Gibbs.”

“Yep, Robert Gibbs,” Sessions said. “Rare.”

John McArdle contributed to this report.

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