White House says it approached Romanoff, but denies job offer
By Sam Youngman - 06/03/10 09:50 AM ET
The White House acknowledged on Thursday that it approached Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff with talk of a job in order to clear the field for its preferred candidate.
In an early morning statement, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs insisted Romanoff was not actually offered a specific position, but said the White House did try to prevent Romanoff from doing battle with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in a primary.
Gibbs portrayed White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina’s contacts with Romanoff as merely following up on an application Romanoff submitted during the presidential transition to work at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Romanoff also had called White House personnel about the position after the Obama administration took office, according to Gibbs.
“Jim Messina called and e-mailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID, or if, as had been reported, he was running for the U.S. Senate,” Gibbs said.
“Months earlier, the president had endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters.
“But Romanoff said that he was committed to the Senate race and no longer interested in working for the administration, and that ended the discussion,” Gibbs said. “As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job.”
Obama and the White House are now in the difficult position of defending backroom political maneuvering meant to help the party retain working majorities in the House and Senate. Democrats expect to lose seats in both chambers in this fall’s elections.