White House: Obama Done Talking About Gates Case

(AP)
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday morning that President Obama "has said everything he's going to say" about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Lewis Gates, Jr.

Gibbs repeated the point twice for emphasis, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports. The press secretary met with reporters in his office.

Also at the meeting, Gibbs came as close as anyone in the White House has so far to expressing regret over Mr. Obama's comments on the matter.

Asked if the president regrets weighing in because "it may take you guys a little bit off message when he's obviously working very hard to get health care reform done," Gibbs targeted the press corps.

"Well, I think he would regret - if he realized how much of an overall distraction and obsession it would be, I think he would probably regret distracting you guys with obsessions," he said.

At his primetime news conference Wednesday, Mr. Obama said "that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home."

He stood by those comments in an interview with ABC News Thursday, saying "it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home." The president said he was "surprised" by the controversy over his comments.

Gibbs has insisted that Mr. Obama "was not calling the officer stupid."

Sgt. James Crowley, the officer who arrested Gates, has expressed disappointment in the president for weighing in on a local matter about which he did not have all the facts, and colleagues and police groups have stood by the sergeant.

Many observers feel Mr. Obama "committed a political error in departing from a carefully crafted image" on racial issues, Politico reports.

"The character that America bought was a race-neutral guy who wasn't going to mention race in any meaningful way," public policy professor Michael Fauntroy told the news outlet.