White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday walked back earlier statements that Republicans could "no doubt" win control of the House this November, but that wasn't enough to placate House Democrats angry about the remarks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats took aim at the White House in a closed-door meeting Tuesday night, according to reports, arguing that Gibbs' comments will hurt the party's campaign efforts in an already-challenging midterm election year.
"How could [Gibbs] know what is going on in our districts?" Pelosi said to other Democrats Tuesday night, Politico reports. "Some may weigh his words more than others. We have made our disagreement known to the White House."
Pelosi reportedly grilled White House staffer Dan Turton, the top White House aide at the meeting, about the impact of Gibbs' comments. Such pessimistic remarks, the thinking goes, could dampen enthusiasm among Democratic fundraisers. (Of course, it could be argued that such comments could actually encourage donors by stoking concerns about a Republican takeover.)
Gibbs initially said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control." Asked about his remarks at a press briefing Tuesday, Gibbs said he simply " " but added that he still believes the Democrats will maintain their majority in the House.
"I think we'll retain the House," he said.
Senior staff from Pelosi's office had contacted the White House Monday about Gibbs' remarks on "Meet the Press," Fox News reports, and Democrats were not satisfied with Gibbs' follow up statement that he was stating the "obvious."
House leaders have been publicly pushing back against Gibbs' analysis. "I don't think we will lose the House," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D - Maryland) said Tuesday.
"I think we'll probably have some net losses," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) suggested. "But we aren't planning to lose anything."
President Obama isto meet with House Democratic leaders in the Oval Office this afternoon.