Source: Obama was 'rude and dismissive' in exchange with Democrat
July 31st, 2013
02:17 PM ET
9 months ago

Source: Obama was 'rude and dismissive' in exchange with Democrat

Washington (CNN) – During a question and answer session Wednesday with Democrats on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama offered what Democratic sources said was a testy response to a question about a federal loan guarantee program, with one source in the room calling it "rude and dismissive."

Other Democrats said they didn't think the president's response was dismissive, and pointed out Obama vowed to follow up with an answer. The lawmaker himself, freshman Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, said of the exchange, "I am the youngest of five brothers – I've been in a headlock before and it's all in good fun."

But the reaction from some Democrats is reflective of long-simmering tension between the president and fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill, many of whom don't feel included or respected by Obama.

The query came from Maloney, a New York Democrat, whose office says the freshman lawmaker asked the president about a company in his district that applied for a loan guarantee through the Department of Energy in 2009, but whose application has been stuck in the final approval stages.

Maloney's office said Wednesday the loan would help create 300 jobs at the firm, Taylor Biomass.

One Democratic source in the room said Maloney began his question by recognizing it was an issue that may be better discussed on the staff level, rather than with the president.

Obama answered, saying "You're right. You should have talked to staff about this," the source said.

Another Democratic source in the room – a veteran lawmaker – said Obama then said in a testy way to Maloney that at least now he can go back and tell his constituents he stood up to the president for them.

This Democratic lawmaker said he felt for Maloney, who is new and clearly was sincere and respectful in his questioning.

Both these Democratic sources have attended previous meetings between presidents and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, independently said Obama was unnecessarily unkind when responding to Maloney's question. Another Democrat in the room, however disputed the suggestion the exchange was testy.

Maloney himself described the exchange this way: "I asked the President for a commitment to prioritize a local jobs project, and I got it. I appreciate the President's responsiveness."

A Democratic source close to Maloney said the Democratic lawmaker "was not personally offended when he was talking with the president."

"He just really wanted to raise awareness of this project," the source added. "He is not one who would express dissatisfaction with the answer he got."

Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said at Wednesday's briefing that it was not his "understanding" that the president was testy in his exchange with Maloney.

"The president was very appreciative of the question," Carney said in response to a question from CNN chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin. "The question got into specifics about a program and I think the president not only said that his staff would follow up on it, he guaranteed that the president's staff would follow up on it. And he was very glad to see the interest in these kinds of programs that was expressed by the congressman."

Multiple sources tell CNN that another heated moment came when Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado asked about rumors that Larry Summers is being considered to head the Federal Reserve, and told the president it is a bad idea.

Sources said the president got defensive and clearly upset, saying that he is sick of the Washington game and liberal press like the Huffington Post going off on Summers as not liberal enough.

The president reminded the room of Democratic lawmakers that Summers was a key part of his economic team as they tried to turn the economy around in 2009. He also made clear that he has made no decision for the Fed chief, but noted that top choices, including Summers and Janet Yellen, are so similar in qualifications you "have to slice the salami" pretty thin to see the differences.

CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.


Filed under: House Democrats • President Obama
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Data Driven

    First of all, Daily Kos, for example, is a liberal blog. Huffington Post is a tabloid masquerading as a liberal blog.

    Anyway, it would be nice if the President vented his wrath more often on Republicans. While seeking "grand bargains" with the GOP, he pulls rank on freshman Dem congressmen and barks at them. And he wonders why liberals are irritated with him?

    I gotta tell you, there are some days when the nicest thing I can say about him is that he's preferable to the totally insane alternative.

    July 31, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    The query came from Maloney, a New York Democrat, whose office says the freshman lawmaker asked the president about a company in his district that applied for a loan guarantee through the Department of Energy in 2009, but whose application has been stuck in the final approval stages.
    ----------------------–
    It's a dumb question. Take care of it yourself, dude. Leave the President out of it. Consider exactly what it is that you're asking Pres. Obama to do. Republicans would have a genuine scandal on their hands if they found out that the POTUS expedited a loan application for a fellow Democrat. Democrats can be really stupid and short-sighted over the simplest stuff.

    July 31, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    So what if the President was testy?
    He has every freakin' right to be testy and then some.
    The man has put up, and continues to put up with never before seen disrespect from BOTH sides of the aisle.
    Now, the truth of this matter is that Maloney did not feel disrespected or talked down to, so this is just another attempt at twisting events or making something out of nothing.
    The President is human and if he was testy he's entitled. He's got a helluva of a job.
    It is my wish that he goes the hell off the reservation IN PUBLIC on some well-deserving obstructionist before he leaves office.

    July 31, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Don't question the Great One!!!

    July 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    Do the math: there were almost 200 Congressmen in the room. If everyone raised their hand & asked about a pet project in their district, it wouldn't have been a policy meeting & would have been really long.

    July 31, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  6. prettyfoot58

    Cnn had found a way to find something negative about the meeting....not sure if i believe their reporting

    July 31, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Jeff

    POTUS has been and always will be a schmuck

    July 31, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. George

    No matter what Obama does his minions rush to defend him.
    The truth just won't do

    July 31, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. JC Atom

    "one source in the room"?!!? with the rest (including the person who asked the question) disagreeing~shows that this conglomeration of tweets, commentary, and articles is just assumed to be something that will get traffic & ratings. Call this journalism? I don't. It's yellow for sure.

    July 31, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    When that young dem does not care why do you care?

    July 31, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Call this journalism? I don't. It's yellow for sure.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yellow, predictable and BOOOOOORING!

    July 31, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    In the richest country in the world, republicans have managed to trickle down and get 80%of our population at or near the poverty level. It would make a pet project seem minuscule by comparison.

    July 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Holger Ehling

    What a non-story! Just go and ask the CEO of Ford whether he thinks the tyre pressure in your car is right and wait for the answer.
    It would be great if reporting would focus on issues rather than such drivel.

    July 31, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. bill pike

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

    July 31, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  15. it must be said

    FIFY

    Source: Obama is 'rude and dismissive' in exchange with Everyone

    It is obvious that Obama believes his own propoganda that he walks on water and is better and smarter than everybody else.

    July 31, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. just sayin

    hahahaha.... some lowly elected representative dares question the great obama?!! doesn't he know that the great obama has only lowered himself to address his minions because he needs something from them. he does not want their feedback or questions. he only demands their obediance.

    July 31, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    I don't know how the Huffington Post got into their exchange, but if the guy cited it as part of his reasoning, then I probably would have lost some patience with the guy, too. I mean, like, who's setting policy around here? Me, or the press?

    Gee, can't a man dismiss someone's suggestion without being called "testy"?

    July 31, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. norma jean

    Dominican Mama says it all.......How can this man take all of the mouthings of Repubs and our own Demos without wanting to scream????.... He has dignity and reserve to spare and I can't picture any president that wouldnt occasionally want to tell everybody to just "shut up"!!!!!!!

    July 31, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. Silence DoGood

    "Thank you Sir, may I have another."

    July 31, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Wake up People!

    Thank you Dominican Mama!!! This POTUS has had to deal with hate from both sides of the aisle! I also want to see him go OFF on a few of the haters.

    Next up, President Obama didn't eat any birthday cake......Wah, wah, wah!

    July 31, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Yawn. GOP/Teatrolls around the country trying to take away women's right to choose and attenuate and dilute voting rights for "inconvenient" demographics and what do we get from CNN?

    "Some unnamed folks said Obama appeared to be a little cranky today, while others...even the person he was supposedly cranky towards...said that that's complete nonsense."

    Get journalism or get bent.

    July 31, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  22. Joan

    Several in the room said it was not a testy response. The young man asking the question was not offended. So CNN what is the big deal and why the silly headline? The President was there to talk about really important national, world, security and financial policies. Clearly he does not handle lower level loan questions. Thousands of those go on every day. At the beginning of the question the young man said he should have asked staffers first and the President agreed with him. Done! Slow news day CNN?

    July 31, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  23. Wake up People!

    You forgot union today Stuffit...... Or should I say Wired Weird???

    July 31, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. Wake up People!

    Oops that should have read union toady.....

    July 31, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. zvikes

    'The president reminded the room of Democratic lawmakers that Summers was a key part of his economic team as they tried to turn the economy around in 2009.'

    Isn't that reason enough to disqualify him from holding any office ever again? With unemployment still close to 8%, and real unemployment much worse, with no ramifications for the banks for the illegal activities they did, and with the middle class (what he claims he'll focus for the rest of his term) getting hosed, why exactly did he mention that as a real to hire him back? Failing upwards, a Washington and Obama tradition!

    July 31, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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