(Washington Times) – The White House struggled Thursday to explain a second Democratic candidate who said the administration used a potential job to coax him out of a Senate primary, saying President Obama has an interest in avoiding bloody intraparty battles.
Early in the day, the White House confirmed that Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina had talked with former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff about taking a job in the administration. Spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters later in the day that no laws had been broken.
Less than a week after the White House acknowledged enlisting former President Bill Clinton to intervene in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, the political ramifications threatened to puncture the president’s claims of changing business as usual in Washington and left Republicans demanding to know whether the White House meddled in other primaries.
“Let’s be clear: There wasn’t a job offered. There wasn’t a job promised. Mr. Romanoff applied for a job in government service during the transition,” Mr. Gibbs said.
Mr. Gibbs tried to distance the president from the failed deal-making attempts, saying he hasn’t talked with Mr. Obama about the Romanoff job discussions.
Republicans called for an independent investigation and said far too many questions remain unanswered about the overtures to Mr. Romanoff and to Rep. Joe Sestak, who defeated White House-supported Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.
“Clearly, Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff aren’t isolated incidents, and are indicative of a culture that embraces the politics-as-usual mentality that the American people are sick and tired of,” said Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the senior Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “The fact of the matter is, this White House has lost all credibility, and the American people can no longer rely on the word of the White House when it tried to deflect and deny allegations of questionable and potentially illegal conduct.”
In a letter to the White House on Thursday, Mr. Issa asked for a “full and complete list of all elections in which the White House engaged in efforts to persuade specific candidates to drop election bids” by offering a job or something else of value, and details about those offerings.
But Mr. Gibbs, asked by a reporter whether there were any other elections in which the White House discussed job prospects to clear the field, said he was not aware of any.
Mr. Romanoff on Wednesday night made public an e-mail from a White House aide that outlined several positions that would be available to him if he dropped his challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet, who has the support of Mr. Obama. The former Colorado House speaker said he was not promised a job by the White House and made it clear he intended to stay in the race.