Call it a puff of smoke from left field.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said Tuesday night that he did not call on White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to resign.
The Minnesota Democrat says reports to the contrary, including here on Hotdish, are “wrong.”
Following reports in the Huffington Post that he was calling for Gibbs to go, he released a statement saying “in the final weeks before a critical midterm election Democrats need to pull together, not go after each other.”
“To set the record straight, I did not call for White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to resign,” he says. “Unfortunately the Huffington Post and other media outlets got the story wrong. I did say, however, that he went too far in his rhetoric. We all know that words matter in politics. I hope that Mr. Gibbs has reconsidered the wisdom of his words.”
The Huffington Post, a decidedly left-leaning Web site, quoted Ellison in an interview earlier Tuesday saying “Gibbs crossed the line. His dismissal would be fair."
Ellison’s new statement does not address that quote.
Instead, he says: “We should continue to focus on the issues facing working families across America. Thousands of progressive activists worked tirelessly to elect President Obama in order to move beyond the disastrous policies of the Bush administration. The country elected Democrats to bring change and to govern.”
And: “Labels matter less than the fact that progressives actually delivered support and votes for the economic recovery package, health care reform, and Wall Street reform. These accomplishments helped deliver on the Democrats' promise to bring desperately needed change to working families across the nation.”
And: “Let's pull together and continue to move past the failed policies of the Bush era. That's what we are here to do.”
But at no point does Ellison, who beat back all primary challenges Tuesday night, say he was misquoted or explain what he meant by saying Gibb’s dismissal would be “fair.”
The contretemps follow a piece in The Hill newspaper in which Gibbs was quoted dismissing criticism of President Obama from the “professional left,” quipping that some should be “drug tested,” and would only be satisfied with “Canadian healthcare,” presumably under a Dennis Kucinich administration.
White House officials suggested that Gibbs’ remarks were meant to express frustration with attacks on Obama from the left, and not to be taken literally.
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