WASHINGTON (CNN) - Even as the White House pushes back at Republican attacks over a controversial comment by President Obama's Supreme Court pick Sonia Sotomayor, both the president and his top spokesman said Friday her wording wasn't the best.
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," Sotomayor said at a university event in 2001. The remark has sparked accusations of racism from prominent conservatives like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who heads a non-profit that sent out an e-mail calling for Sotomayor to withdraw from consideration for the high court, and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who compared the judge Friday to former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.
In an interview with NBC Friday, President Obama said Sotomayor's point could have been more clearly made. "I'm sure she would have restated it" if she had known how it would be interpreted, he said.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed Limbaugh's attempt to draw parallels between Sotomayor and Duke, but called her choice of words a "poor" one.
"I've not talked specifically with her about this, but I think that she'd say that her word choice in 2001 was poor, that she was simply making the point that personal experiences are relevant to the process of judg[ing]," Gibbs said at his daily briefing. "That your personal experiences make you have a tendency to make you more aware of certain facts and certain cases, that your experiences impact your understanding. I think we all agree with that, and that on a court that is collegial, that it can help others that are trying to wrestle with the facts of those cases."
Some members of the GOP, like National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn, have said publicly that accusing Sotomayor of racism for the remark is the wrong approach for the party to take.
"This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent...." Cornyn told National Public Radio Thursday. "I certainly don't endorse it."