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

Gibbs dismisses losses as 'local elections'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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)

    This is just the beginning. 2010 will show that Obama is a big reason for throwing out many incumbants. Some Republican and many Democrats!

    November 4, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. tpbco

    And the captain of the Titianic wants to know if you need any ice for your cocktail.

    The 2008 Presidential Election was a blacklash vote against the Republicans...NO different from Nixon/Cater and Clinton/Bush. NOT about what the democrats are doing to this country.

    Gibbs is categorically wrong, anger DID when that election and now we, as with the previous two times, are paying for it.

    November 4, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Biden beats Palin

    Why would anyone care about Obama for their Governor? One doesn't "vote for the other one. And why would I care about NJ and VA govs?
    If you want to know how people think about Obama policies, just go to NY where Democrat wiped the floor with Palin's choice to win a seat a Democrat hasn't won in over 100 years! The only election you are tracking that can actually vote for or against Obama policies. Now that's a statement.

    And why would House Dems get spooked? They got POSITIVE reaffirmation in NY. Dumb question CNN.

    November 4, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. johndoe5

    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......
    So why Obama bothers to come to NJ to campaign for Corzine..... 5 TIMES????????????

    November 4, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  5. Terry from West Texas

    Obama was not repudiated by any of last night's elections, but voters clearly were not swayed by the opportunity to show support for the candidated endorsed by Obama either. Obama has a solid core of supporters – I'd guess 40%. Then, there is about 15% of America who is in the squishy middle.

    Those folks bend with every breeze. They are all for you unless they burned the toast that morning, then they are against you because "things are not going well for me." They have no political principles and to them democracy is sort of like a reality show where you get to vote one person off the island every week.

    Unfortunately, they decide most elections.

    November 4, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. John

    Keep being dismissive, and you will be out of a job in 3 more years.

    November 4, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Ryan

    It's true, exit polls show this had nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with very poor candidates representing the Democrats.

    The good news, like all republicans... these guys will screw things up juuuust enough for people to have it fresh in their mind when they go to the polls next time for congressional candidates.

    Weather it will be the traditional republican "cheat on my wife" affair or the classic "I'm going to say I'm not racist but basically be racist" route... who knows. But those are the norms with the GOP.

    November 4, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Juan M

    LOL...local election. Obama had his arm wrapped around Corzine for the last week. Yeah I'm sure it had nothing to do with Obama or his plummeting numbers.

    November 4, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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