White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, under fire from liberals, made it clear Wednesday he has no plans to resign.
Gibbs returned to the daily White House briefing on Wednesday a day after his criticism of the “professional left” created a political firestorm.
In an interview with The Hill, Gibbs said some on the left would not be satisfied until the U.S. had “Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon.” He said people who say President Obama is like George Bush “ought to be drug tested.”
Gibbs, who was said to be suffering from a cold, did not appear at the White House daily briefing on Tuesday as he was bashed in the liberal blogosphere and on television.
He emerged Wednesday with a sore throat, but answered a question about whether he would resign by saying: “I don't plan on leaving.”
“And there's no truth to the rumor that I've added an inflatable exit to my office,” he joked.
For the second day, Gibbs refused to back off the substance of his comments: frustration he feels toward liberal commentators for their criticisms of President Obama. Gibbs did repeat his regret for how he phrased the answers in the interview, blaming his steady diet of cable news shows.
“I watch a lot of cable TV, and you don't have to watch long to get frustrated by some of what's said,” Gibbs said Wednesday. “And I think that's what that answer was borne out of.”
Many of the questions at Wednesday's briefing touched on the White House's relationship with the left and Gibbs's comments.
Gibbs said that he has not spoken with the president about the matter, and he has not reached out to any members of the “professional left.”
He also apparently is skipping the liberal cable shows that drew his ire in the first place, saying that instead of watching Keith Olbermann's criticism of him Tuesday night, he spent his time “watching my BlackBerry for primary returns and watching the Braves game on the Internet.”
A number of liberal TV and radio hosts continued to process Gibbs's comments on Wednesday, questioning everything from his motives to what effect his remarks could have on Democratic turn-out in the midterm elections.
And despite several efforts at levity by the embattled press secretary at Wednesday's briefing, a number of high-profile liberal commentators warned that Gibb's remarks could harm liberal enthusiasm in the midterms.
“It went over like a lead balloon — particularly in August, when all the members of Congress are back in their home states, campaigning, trying to whip up enthusiasm,” Jane Hamsher, founder of the liberal blog Firedoglake.com, told ABC News's “Top Line.” “We're seeing tremendous demoralization amongst the sort of Democratic base.”
Hamsher added: “Having the White House and [Gibbs] basically call the progressives a big bunch of babies who need to grow up, you know, when their concerns are very valid, probably wasn't the sharpest political move.”
Gibbs disputed the idea that liberals would stay home on Election Day out of anger with him.
“I don't think they will [stay home], because I think what's at stake in November is too important to do that,” he said.
When asked if he had put his foot in his mouth or intentionally teed off on liberal commentators, Gibbs opened his mouth to show reporters at the briefing that there was no foot in there.
“I think I have both my feet firmly planted on the floor and nothing in my mouth to speak of,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs did not dispute deputy press secretary Bill Burton's remark on Tuesday that Gibbs “answered honestly.”
“I think many of you all have heard frustration voiced in here and around,” Gibbs said. “I doubt I said anything that you haven't already heard.”
— Jordan Fabian contributed to this post.
This post was updated at 2:04 p.m. and 3:52 p.m.