November 4th, 2009
12:51 PM ET
4 years ago

Gibbs dismisses losses as 'local elections'

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Tuesday's races in New Jersey and Virginia 'local elections.'
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Tuesday's races in New Jersey and Virginia 'local elections.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed Democratic electoral defeats in New Jersey and Virginia as "two very local elections" that say nothing about President Barack Obama's standing with the American people right now.

"It's hard to pick national trends out of local elections," Gibbs told reporters at a Wednesday briefing just hours after incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine was knocked out despite Obama's two appearances in New Jersey on Sunday. Obama also had campaigned for Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, who lost as well.

Gibbs noted that exit polls showed the number two issue in New Jersey was local property taxes, and claimed that and other data shows the gubernatorial races were decided on local issues "that did not involve the president."

But Gibbs was eager to tout Democrat Bill Owens' victory in the hotly contested House special election to represent New York's 23rd Congressional District. The press secretary noted that GOP officials "purged" the Republican candidate in the race to make way for Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

Hoffman's rise was fueled by Republican luminaries such as Sarah Palin and Tea Party activists who are fired up by charges that Obama is trying to expand the size of the federal government, but in the end Hoffman lost to Owens by several points.

"It proves anger can get 45 percent of the vote," said Gibbs. "It doesn't win a lot of elections."

Asked if he has concerns, however, that conservative Democrats in Congress will get "spooked" by the election results and run away from Obama's health care push and other agenda items, Gibbs said, "I don't think they will, and I am not concerned."

Gibbs said Obama is planning on Wednesday to call the Republican winners in New Jersey and Virginia, Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell, to congratulate them on their victories. He said Obama called Corzine and Deeds on Tuesday night to offer his support, but did not want to interrupt the celebrations that Christie and McDonnell were having with their families and supporters on Election Night.


Filed under: New Jersey • NY-23 • Robert Gibbs • Virginia
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Greg, MN

    You know thats not true, but I hope and pray Obama's inner circle really do blow these off and keep going the way they are going. 2010 will be so beautiful for conservatism. They may get both houses back and several governorships. Keep your head in the sand.

    People (51%) may still like Obama but 62% or more dislike every initiative he is for except Afghanistan. But then again Obama doesn't know what he wants in Afghanistan either.

    November 4, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. manhandler

    But if the Dems had have won, Gibbs would have said that it was a huge affirmation of Obama's performance.

    November 4, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. Right Leaning Independent

    Please, you folks keep your heads in the sand all the way to 2010 elections. This had as much to do with Obama, Pelosi and Reid as it did local issues. The Independents are running back toward Conservative-Pro Business candidates which are typically Repubs!! The Hope and Change they were promised is not working out so well. And you can say that it takes time to fix the mess Bush left but look in the mirror because Dems created the financial mess we are in beginning with Clinton and the CRA. Barney Frank was warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003 and did NOTHING!! You Dems can try to blame it on Bush but those that have done their homework know where the blame lies and we are voting based on the truth – not your fairy tale versions of the truth!!

    November 4, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Kingssman

    Dems won 5 congressional races,
    CA-32
    NY-20
    NY-23
    IL-5
    CA-10
    IIRC
    These winners will vote in Congress. McDonnell and Christie, NO.

    November 4, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  5. Brenda

    Just keep saying this Gibbs.......It will make it easier for the Republicans to clobber the Dems in 2010 and 2012.

    Based on these elections and national, unbiased polling results..........It is now clear that the MAJORITY of Independents no longer trust/approve/support Obama, the Democrats, their policies, and the direction that they are taking our country.

    The majority of Independents will be voting with the Republicans AGAINST Obama and the Dems in 2010 and 2012.

    The economy, unemployment rates, taxes, Cap and Tax Bill, etc.-–definitely are beyond local issues--and are a referendum on Obama and the Democrat policies as well.

    November 4, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Jane/Seattle

    These attempts by some to cloud the issue by relating everything to Obama are just so transparent. Local unrest could or could not be related, but I would not make such assumptions. Locally here we ousted Mayor Greg Nichols in the primary in favor of two relatively non-politicos. Why? Well for me, I felt that mayor Nichols pandered too much to business and was not sympathetic to the homeless when some housing/human rights activists set up another tent city named Nicholsville! He also proposed a plastic bag fee in the middle of this recession, but exempted some big downtown players from charging some fees. Green is good, BUT you need to be fair! The really telling aspect for me was how he also used Obama in his re-election bid. To me this was very revealing as to how the deceptions of politics ensnare so many! Mayors race now: Progressive-billed, McGinn slightly ahead. We gotta talk what we know! Peace

    November 4, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. KAREN

    Oh how you spin!!! Of course its The Economy Stupid !!! And who is in charge?the White HOuse? Obama. Whether they admit it or not. People are fed up and it is a referendum on Tax and spend dems and Peloisi and Reids treating us as inrrelevant to their policies. People have had enough and 2010 will silence those who don't take notice of these elections.

    November 4, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. phoenix86

    The elections showed that Obama has no political coat-tails. Obama campaigned heavily in New Jersey (as did Joe "Foot-in-Mouth" Biden), yet Obama's "star appeal" couldn't move voters.

    Yesterday's elections should tell the democratic representatives and senatos that they are on their own in 2010.

    November 4, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Durk

    False. Obama, Biden, and other main players wouldn't have campaigned so persistently if the elections weren't of importance to their agenda. If the democratic candidates had won, headlines would have read "Democratics sweep HUGE elections in NJ and VA." Just typical liberal media downplaying their declining support.

    November 4, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  10. Brian from NJ

    Gibbs is smug and arrogant and is eventually going to become a liability to the Obama Administration... NJ voters just threw that type of attitude out of office and rejected a "Big Government through Higher Taxes" liberal mindset. And Gibbs is dead wrong if he thinks this won't spook the Blue Dogs... the end result of last night's election may be the death of the Reid, Pelosi, and Obama liberal agenda... the message last night was "Where are the Jobs?" not "Where is my Public Option?"

    November 4, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. machtim akannah

    Sure it was unimportant. that is why Obama visited NJ 3 times to support Corzine. Hypocrisy run rampant.

    November 4, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Please stopr censoring...thx S Callahan

    He is 'somewhat ' correct...people are targeting the Congress and Senate (you have no idea how much).....and 'weaning' out the garbage at the local and state levels first.....it's going to be a few interesting years ahead. Oddly, President Obama really wasn't much different the average Joe growing up (economics, that is)....so in a strange kind of way..it's almost supportive of his ideals....weird.

    November 4, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Right Leaning Independent

    We will be sure there is no mistaking the message of a referendum on Obama in 2010 since it is obvious you did not get this one Gibbsy!! BTW, where is the CNN poll asking if the results were a referendum on Obama?? Are you afraid you may not like the results!!!

    November 4, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Fed Up

    We'll see how "local" the elections are in 2010. In the meantime, keep telling Americans that it doesn't matter what they want, and that they are irrelevant.

    November 4, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  15. gt

    ya right ,, thats why obama lived in new jersy and virgina,,,,better get back to the middle....stop this foolish agenda on gay rights , golbal warming,,, its jobs man.... its about jobs.....

    November 4, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "This really indicates that Obama is irrelevant."

    Indeed he is: Obama has absolutely nothing to do with local property taxes, corruption in the NJ and VA state governments, state legislation and regulation and enforcement thereof, Corzine's horrible track record in NJ or the fact that Deeds has all the personality of stale oatmeal. Nice try though....it just so happens you were right in a manner you didn't intend.

    November 4, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Chris D.

    I'm all for a big strong government, with a positive role in America.......I love this government b/c I love America, and our government is the best on the planet!!!!!!!
    Also i'm a middle class working american.

    Obama/Biden 2012!!!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Media overreaction

    I don't think these elections had anything to do with Obama either. But the media's hysterical overreaction on this might end up being good for everyone.

    The teabaggers can feel a little less powerless and stop hauling their guns to public meetings and tone down their idiotic rhetoric just a bit.

    The mainstream Dems can stop fumfering around and take bold action, by themselves - & stop kidding themselves that GOPs and conservative Dems will do anything but obstruct.

    November 4, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Lori

    Au contraire, it shows that the voters are concerned about local issues, like property taxes, etc., and aren't swayed simply by presidential support. Why should they be? Obama has little or nothing to do with city/state government. Too bad the Dem candidates were so weak, that's more to blame.

    November 4, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. Hammerer

    The truth is that people are fed up with politics. Fed up with Democrats, fed up with Republicans and fed up with the media and their talking heads pretending to know the thoughts of the American voters.
    They say that there is a civil war among the Dems, a civil war among the Repubs, but the truth is that there is a total disgust with the government in Washington, and if things don't change there will be a civil war in the streets of America.

    November 4, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. 2012

    As a Democrat this does indeed speak to the Obama Administration. Take heed so you know where to improve and where to back off. The Republicans did us a favor. Thank goodness these elections were not for Hill positions.

    November 4, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. John

    So do the democrats make a habit of throwing tens of millions of dollars at issues that are local? Why yes they do, they throw money at everything.

    Change you can believe in.

    November 4, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. All the news that is fit to omit

    Funny, Palin makes ONE statement in support of the (C) running here and the MSM is saying this loss reflects on her, BUT Obambi and Billy Clinton spend DAYS in VA and NJ and somehow that doesn't reflect on them???

    Obamabots in the media are all giddy over this, but the facts are that they didn't do ANYTHING here, the Republicans in NY blew it with the initial selection.

    Bet the house that next year, the REPUBLICANS get this back.

    Time for the Obamabots to roll out of bed and bash Palin, the rest of us WORKERS only have a half hour for lunch.

    This lying slobs words are laughable and unbelievable, just like his liar of a boss didn't watch the results last night.

    Sniffit, 2010 is going to be AWESOME baby, get out the crying towel.

    November 4, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Former Army

    That is why Mr. O spent so much time campaigning on "local elections"? Does the white house have some swamp property (healthcare) to sell also?

    November 4, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. Bj

    Gibbs is just another talking head. I doubt if he has ever had an original thought in his life. He's paid to preach all things Obama, and the truth is something he will never be burdened with.

    November 4, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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