White House on the fence on Iran

The White House welcomed passage of a House resolution supporting Iranian dissidents but continued to walk a fine line over the protests that have consumed the nation since its presidential election.

After Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned protesters to stop their actions, hinting at more violence if they fail to do so, the House voted 405-1 to condemn the violence and support the protesters.

The White House has been caught in the precarious position of advocating the free speech of the protesters without arming anti-American Iranian leaders with fresh material to include the U.S. in the debate.

Shortly after the House vote on Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the resolution's language is "very consistent" with what President Obama has said since the chaos began.

"Obviously, we welcome the resolution," Gibbs said, adding that he believes "that it echoes the words of President Obama throughout the week."

Republicans have blasted the administration for not being more vocal in supporting the protesters and condemning the government's use of violence against them.

When asked Friday if the president had been condemning the actions of the Iranian government, Gibbs noted that Obama has condemned the violence and the violence is being perpetrated by the Iranian government.

"I think if you look at what he has said throughout the week that's clear," Gibbs said.

But Obama said Monday that it was counterproductive for the U.S. to be seen as "meddling" in the elections, and Gibbs said that despite the criticism of some, the president and others continue to believe in "the wisdom in that stance."

"I will say, as the president has said, we're not going to be sued as political foils and political footballs in a debate that's being held by Iranians in Iran," Gibbs said Friday. "There are many people in the [Iranian] leadership who would love for us to get involved and to trot out the same old foils they've used for years. That's not what we're going to do."

Gibbs said that the president's stated belief that "those who wish to have their voices heard should be able to do that, to be able to do that without fear of violence," is consistent with the House resolution.

"I think the president has been clear in standing up for the universal principles and deploring violence," Gibbs said.

More in News

Alleged White House fence jumper deemed competent to stand trial

Read more »