White House: We Regret ‘Miscommunication’ Of Alleged GOP Quote

The White House on Thursday said it regrets a “miscommunication” that led to reports that a GOP leader had told President Obama to his face that “I cannot even stand to look at you.” The alleged confrontation, which the White House denied on Wednesday had even occurred, supposedly came in a closed-door meeting during the government shutdown earlier this month.

“While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the President is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” a White House official said in an email to TPM.

The miscommunicated quote, as relayed by someone at the White House to Senate Democrats, was reportedly brought up by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in a Democratic caucus meeting. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) publicly wrote about it on Facebook last weekend.

Republicans raised hell, denying that any such thing was said to the president. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that the remark was not uttered during the meeting. Durbin stood by it. Senate Democrats leaked to reporters that the quote was conveyed by the White House, and attributed to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Sessions’ office denied that he said anything like that.

Now the White House has clarified the origin of the story and taken responsibility for what it called a “misunderstanding.”

Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office has called on Durbin to apologize. “At this point, we just hope Senator Durbin will do the right thing,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner, in response to the White House’s statement.


Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.