The White House said Tuesday it would not "disagree or quibble" with former aide David Axelrod's claim that President Obama concealed his true position on gay marriage for political reasons.
"He obviously is sharing his views as he remembers them," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. "And sometimes his perspective is informed by his up-close, front-row seat to history."
In the book, Axelrod says Obama listened to campaign advisers who told him it would be politically advantageous to support civil unions, rather than full marriage when he ran for the White House in 2008.
"For as long as we had been working together, Obama had felt a tug between his personal views and the politics of gay marriage," Axelrod wrote. "Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a 'sacred union.' "
When Obama publicly announced he was endorsing gay marriage ahead of the 2012 campaign, he said he had undergone an evolution based on conversations with his children, friends and staff.
But Axelrod said the president "never felt comfortable" with hiding his position on the issue.
"He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews. 'I'm just not very good at bulls----ing,' he said with a sigh after one such awkward exchange," Axelrod wrote.
Earnest on Tuesday said Obama's views were "consistent with the kind of evolution that people all across the country have undergone."
Pressed on whether the president had made a cynical decision, the White House spokesman said it was best to look at the president's comments and actions on the issue upon arriving in office.
Obama chose to take tough political stands on the issue of gay rights, including announcing his support for gay marriage before the 2012 election, Earnest argued.
"When the president made his first public comments indicating his support for gay couples to marry, that was viewed as a pretty controversial political stand," Earnest said, adding that the moment was "at the beginning of a broader change that we saw all across the country."