January 20th, 2010
03:51 PM ET
4 years ago

Gibbs not pointing fingers after Coakley loss

A day after Martha Coakley's loss in a Massachusetts special election, a White House spokesman refused to point fingers.
A day after Martha Coakley's loss in a Massachusetts special election, a White House spokesman refused to point fingers.

(CNN) – While several Democrats Wednesday questioned how Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley managed to lose what was expected to be an easy Senate race in the bluest of states, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs isn't pointing fingers.

"I don't want to get into the blame game," Gibbs said at Wednesday's White House daily briefing. "I said earlier I think we all bear some responsibilities."

But echoing his own words from earlier in the week, when polls showed Coakley heading for a defeat, Gibbs said "there was a surprise and a frustration here."

While the White House is publicly refusing to assign blame on the Coakley campaign, a top adviser to President Obama on Tuesday rejected assertions that the vote was a referendum on the president or Democratic policies: "Campaigns and candidates matter," the adviser said.

Meanwhile, Coakley's top pollster, Celinda Lake, insisted Tuesday that the loss was part of an anti-incumbent fever that threatens to take down Democrats across the nation.

"There's a wave here. The first shore was New Jersey and Virginia," Lake told CNN Tuesday, referring to Democratic losses in the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia. "The second was Massachusetts, and it's coming to the island now, so we'd better do something about it."


Filed under: Massachusetts • President Obama • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Reggie

    Don't blame Coakley. BLAME OBAMA, REID and PELOSI!!!! They couldn't be doing a worse job, even if they tried.

    January 20, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Obama Victim

    blame......The Messiah should look in the mirror

    January 20, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. Right Leaning Independent

    Gibbs and Obama both have said that the loss is because of voter anger due to "George Bush"!!! I could not believe it when they said it. These morons believe they have done nothing wrong! Someone has now obviously come to Gibbs and told him to tone it down because he was proving those that say the administration is arrogant to be correct....

    January 20, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    Part of the problem is that populism, on any level higher than local politics, has never been the democrats' forte, with a few exceptions like Carter and Clinton. Have a nice day!

    January 20, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    The voters of this country need to have a little patience. "Anti-incumbent" feelings for the Democrats – when they've only been in power for one year and inherited a huge mess brought on by eight years of Bush/Cheney policies?

    It takes time, folks, to clean things up. And how quickly everyone seems to forget: Before Democrats had the guts to work on health care reform, people were always complaining about their health care costs going up; how the insurance companies were getting in between them and their doctor; how they could be dropped by the insurance company if they got sick.

    Well, guess what, folks? All the Republicans have done is obstruct and delay and lie and pander to people's fears.

    Republicans have no new ideas – no solutions. Just fear and hate and division.

    I, for one, have the patience to let President Obama's policies work.

    January 20, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Billy J..Texas..

    She lost because she wouldn't shake hands and ask for peoples vote. I am absolutely opposed to the conservative agenda on just about everything other than 'personal responsibility' and even that seems to be a joke when they practice, BUT! Nobody deserves to go to D.C. that isn't willing to sit down and talk to the lowliest of their constituencies. C'mon, this is a representative democracy, you better represent more than people like you if you want to win.

    January 20, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    I agree, it is a wave and I don't know, even the substance of those wins in New Jersey and Virginia, shuold say a lot about the content of the American people. The Prez won Virginia and more than likely the Dems might have Jersey in the bank but even when the elections started, Campaign advisers for Senator McCain thought they had a chance in Jersey. Though it was optimism and confidence, the result told otherwise. But Virginia though, they better pay attention cause Virginia ain't like no other state.

    And if our Prez didn't get the memo, then what's the hold up? I don't understand his intentions, yet his depravations about what he wants to do. The economy is still our problem, and for how long now? Doesn't he understand? Yeah we can talk how Health Care can help dissolve our deficit in the long run but there's too many obstacles to go around and too many people who innocently don't know what to do or say. Is gonna affect everybody, work, jobs, low and middle class, maybe even the upper class, etc. Is gonna affect everybody. Let alone the biggest complain and argument about Health Care is cost and benefits so I just don't understand.

    It is a referendum of things to come, the White house has seen drop in poll numbers, drop in his approval, drop in his policies, and what else is there? If the 2010 elections were held today, what is the Prez gonna run on? Tell me, I would like to know. Health Care? Even his stature and personality didn't help one bit in Coakley so if there's to blame, it is the Dems. The Dems are to blame, they are too blame for taking such a sensitive issue and pragmatically inserting it to the American people.

    Tell me, what is our prez gonna run on? "Change?" I don't think so, so I hope they take it seriously cause when the 2010 elections come, is gonna be a full sweep intact, especially if Health Care is still around.

    January 20, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Mike

    The party in the White House better face facts. People in this country are fed up with how this Administration is handling the economy and behind closed doors deal making on health care reform. Bush was bad but what we have now is certainly no better.

    January 20, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. T'SAH from Virginia

    WE – as in Democrats – have ourselves to BLAME!!

    The HEALTH CARE debate – as much as it is needed – took to LONG to get a vote and pass. This allowed the FAR-RIGHT to spread LIES about the plan and it disrupted the whole process!!!

    WE – as Democrats – have to learn how to MOVE a "little" more RIGHT towards the INDEPENDENTS because they are there to make sure all of the CHECKS and BALANCES are in place!!!

    As far as the FAR-RIGHT WINGNUTS and TEA-PARTIERS – who THINK they are in control right now – are fighting a LOST CAUSE.

    THEY believe that AMERICA is LOST and they have to WIN it back. They are in for a RUDE AWAKENING because NO ONE in America is willing to go that lengths to PLEASE THEM and their RACIST ways. They are too far right; too HEAD STRONG and DEAD WRONG and so-called TOO RIGHTEOUS to know what TRUE AMERICA is all about...... CASE and POINT!!

    January 20, 2010 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. Gibbs talks too much

    That's because the answer has more to do with Obama's policies than Coakley.

    January 20, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Phil in KC

    I have no problem pointing fingers. This loss can be directly laid at the feet of the candidate. She claimed Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan. In Boston? Really? She dismissed the idea of standing outside areas where her constituents gathered and shaking hands. Offending your voters is not really a good idea. She blew a 30 point lead with her ignorance and her arrogance.
    This was not a national referendum and Obama should not change a thing. Granted, he no longer has a "super majority", but he still has an 18 seat lead in the Senate. That's more than the Republicans have held since the 1920's and look at all the laws they've managed to pass. Shoot, when Reagan took office and the so-called moral majority were swept in, they passed just about anything they wanted (including a few laws that have come back to bite us since then). So why can't the Democrats get their agenda enacted? Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi should be fired for failure to perform.
    As for health care, Pelosi needs to pass the bill exactly as the Senate wrote it so that no further negotiations with the Senate need to take place.

    January 20, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Of course not else he'd have to point the "finger" at his boss!

    January 20, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. By Any Means Necessary

    Ms. Coakley lost becasue she was a lackluster candidate.

    She lost because the Democrats failed to muster the same level of turnout that they did just 14 months ago. All that Twitter & Text messaging to deploy an army of Massachusetts voters should have been part of the Coakley campaign machine.

    The Democrats need a "hit squad" to eliminate Republican liars and lies. The GOP labels everything originating from Democrats as a handout, wasteful, unpatriotic, Republican's are professional liars that wind the BUMPER STICKER wars.

    Democrats were ready for this when candidate Barack Obama was running for the Presidency. The Dems knew the GOP was not to be trusted and would attempt to "word smyth" to scare white voters and convince them that the President was a "scary guy with a funny name".

    Well, just because his is President doesn't mean they have stopped their dishonorable spin machine.

    Like boxer Mike Tyson said ... I hit with bad intentions. For the next 20 years, the Democrats need to approach every POLITICAL DEBATE with the Republicans like Mike Tyson. They need to annihilate the GOP with sledgehammer body blows.

    January 20, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. glenn129

    Gibbs is the spokesman for obama. He would lose his job if he told the truth and said the real reason the people voted against Coakley was her democratic platform that was identical to obama's, It is easy to have misplaced aggression and blame, it takes integrity to tell the truth and accept the blame. So far we have not seen the democrats exibit this.

    January 20, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Yes It Is

    YES , THIS IS A REFERENDUM ON OBAMA, GIBBS AND CONGRESS. People are tired of the arrogance, inexperience.spending, stupid health care bills,union appeasing, acorn ties, GM bailout,welfare give aways, Louisiana purchase, Corn Bribery, and the total picture in general.

    January 20, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Bill NY

    I point the finger at right wing loonies funded by covert big business war chests. There are those who will never get over Mr. Obama being president. Stupid petty people who do not have the nation's best interests at heart. Getting people who need the most working against thier own best interests. Voter dissatisfaction has its roots in the above right wing looney campaigns like death squads and other nonsense. These people are no better than terrorists and have similar effects on this country. People are very quick to forget the reasons this country is headed down the toilet bowl, and seem eager to repeat the same mistakes.

    January 20, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    All's quiet on the blogs today! All the professional GOP bloggers are off today.

    I thought they would be on, gloating over their win!

    January 20, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. Kevin in Ohio

    Members of the administration need to look no further than their own mirrors to see who is to blame. If they cannot accept their own role in this, then they are truly deaf and blind.

    January 20, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. New Age Independent

    Too late... the finger pointing began even before the polls closed. And some of it directly from the President. Gibbs is nothing more than a tool for propaganda. You're not going to get any real facts from him.

    January 20, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Joe Nations

    Oh Gibbs, give me a break!!!

    January 20, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    First Virginia and New Jersey, now Mass. I'd say it's Obama's fault! Everyone he comes out to support ends up losing.

    Or could it be the people stood up to oppose this ill-conceived health care "reform" the dems are trying so hard to jam down our throats? Nah, that makes too much sense.

    January 20, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Sam

    They still don't get it. The "clever campaign" run by Scott Brown was: "I will vote against the deeply partisan health care bill that no one around here wants to pass". Still can't beleive people are looking to blame anyone other than the Obama Administration for Coakley's loss

    January 20, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. RobertJ

    It doesn't matter how much Robert Glib or any other window dresser tries to pretend it didn't happen. The policies and actions of President Obama and Democrats in Congress were a major ingredient in Scott Brown's election as senator. The American public has looked behind the Wizard's curtain of slick speeches and empty promises. They don't like what they see, nor do they like the stench of rotten pork.

    January 20, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Albert K. L.A., CA

    Obama is to blame for loosing Ted’s Seat! Massachusetts is an enlightened state with universal health care, gay marriage, a black governor and a white majority who supported Obama in 2008. Since then, Obama spoke out stupidly against a white cop (Officer Crowley) in Cambridge, a city with a black lesbian mayor and a mouthy black professor (Gates) who disturbed the peace, got arrested and then yelled, of all things, “This is what happens to a Black man in America.” That beer summit solved nothing but only added insult to injury. How much Bull crap are these enlightened voters supposed to take? The problem is that Obama needs to see that there is a black America and a white America. The same week Harry Reid was wrongly attacked by blacks for simply assessing the impact voter prejudice my have on the 2008 election, Coakley’s swing-voters, swung away. That attack against Reid, a friend to blacks for decades, reopened the old festering wound inflicted by Obama against Officer Crowley, a cop who trains other cops in racial sensitivity. Obama needs to begin that National dialogue on race relations and open it by admitting that a white man plus a police uniform does not mean racist cop and that being a tired black Harvard professor who just traveled home from China does not excuse you from obeying police when they need you to step outside your home to be sure you are safe from anyone else who may be inside your home. Obama should also make it clear to everyone that Reid was only assessing whether enough white (Anglo) voters would be willing to vote for a black (Negro) for president and not saying anything about the ability of any member of any race to be president. In other words, Obama needs to tell black people to stop shooting themselves in the foot!

    January 20, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Best candidates do not always win. Look at W as a prime example. MA will have voter's remorse before the year is up. Driving a truck does not always equal political success.

    January 20, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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