A Democratic member of Congress called for White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's resignation Tuesday due to inflammatory comments he made about the "professional left."
Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), said Gibbs went over the line when he told The Hill that some left-wing critics of the president "ought to be drug tested."
"This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don't share his view that the left is unimportant to the president," Ellison told the Huffington Post. "I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he's walking over the line."
Asked if Gibbs should resign, he said "That'd be fair, because this isn't the first time. And, again, people of all political shades worked very hard to help the president become the president. Why would he want to go out and deliberately insult the president's base?"
Gibbs took heat from liberal bloggers and activists for his comments, who argued Gibbs's comments were foolish. Gibbs later stood by his comments, but called them "inartful."
He did not participate in the White House daily press briefing Tuesday.
Deputy press secretary Bill Burton told the White House press corps that Gibbs was absent because he is suffering from a cold.
UPDATED 8/11/2010 9:59 A.M.
Ellison on Wednesday disputed the Huffington Post's account. He told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he did not call on Gibbs to resign.
“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.”
Ellison's statement did not address his statement that his resignation would be "fair."