The man charged with leading House Democratic campaign efforts blamed the media Wednesday for anger directed at White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chariman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the press misinterpreted Gibbs's comments that the GOP is within "striking distance" of winning the House.
Van Hollen conceded that Gibbs's remarks angered some members of his caucus, but insisted the White House press secretary's words were taken out of context.
Van Hollen made the comments in response to questions from Fox News host Bill Hemmer, who said he'd heard some Democrats use the word "livid" and the phrase "they threw us under the bus" in describing the White House.
Look there are some of our members who have responded in that way because a lot of the press has taken the Gibbs comments to mean that the Democrats are likely to lose the House. He did not say that," Van Hollen responded. "He said there are a whole lot of seats in play, which is obviously true."
The press secretary's comment that there is "no doubt" Republicans could reclaim the House has sparked a political firestorm in Washington.
In response to Gibbs, House Minority Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorRepublicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia Virginia emerging as ground zero in battle for House majority McAuliffe's loss exposes deepening Democratic rift MORE (R-Va.) predicted his party would win the 39 seats necessary to take back the House majority. Van Hollen and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have insisted they'll keep the majority they won in 2006.
Others have said that Gibbs' comment was part of the Democrarts' messaging strategy to downgrade expectations and sharpen the choice between the GOP and their party in the fall.
But Van Hollen piggybacked on Gibbs' statements this week, in which he said the Democrats are likely to retain their majority in the House.
"There's obviously a distinction between a mathematical possibility and a likelihood," Van Hollen said.