WASHINGTON - Facing criticism from House Democrats, the White House circulated a memo yesterday that details all the political help that President Barack Obama and administration officials have given to the party's candidates.
The White House portrayed the memo as a regular update of its political operation, but it came amid angry words between congressional Democratic leaders and administration officials.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out over White House spokesman Robert Gibbs' recent comments that Republicans could win a majority, according to an aide who was present at Tuesday's closed-door meeting.
The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.
Yesterday, Gibbs defended his remark about the House, but hastened to add that he doesn't think that will happen. "I don't think I said anything that was politically shocking," Gibbs said during his daily briefing with reporters.
The memo describes how Obama and his team are working with candidates ahead of this year's midterm elections. The White House plans to dispatch Obama across the country at least once a week between now and Nov. 2.
"The president, vice president, first lady, cabinet officers and senior staff have participated in 187 political events in the last 18 months, all with the intention of directly supporting candidates on the ballot in 2010 or building up the infrastructure of party committees," according to the memo provided by a Democratic official. "[Forty] more events are currently or tentatively scheduled and dozens more will be organized in the next few months."
Congressional Democrats have pushed Obama's circle to do more to avert potential disaster in this fall's elections. Many fret the White House is not effective in using the heft of the presidency to help elect Democrats.
House Democratic leaders were scheduled to meet with Obama last night and some of the political concerns were expected to be aired.