(CNN) - The liberal group MoveOn.org is taking aim at President Obama over a recent interview during which he appeared to refrain from criticizing Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon over their multi-million dollar bonuses.
In an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek Tuesday, Obama was asked if he thought the 2009 bonus packages totaling $9 million for Blankfein and $17 million for Dimon were acceptable.
"I know both those guys. They're very savvy businessmen," Obama responded. "And I, like most of the American people, don't begrudge people success or wealth. That's part of the free market system. I do think that the compensation packages that we've seen over the last decade at least have not matched up always to performance."
Obama also compared the big payouts to those of some professional athletes: "Of course, there are some baseball players who are making more than that who don't get to the World Series either. So I'm shocked by that as well."
In an e-mail to supporters Thursday, MoveOn.org Campaign Director Daniel Mintz especially targets Blankfein, saying "'savvy' doesn't accurately describe a businessman who brought the world economy to the edge of collapse."
Mintz is also urging members to call the White House and let Obama "know that you're outraged that big banks have returned to business as usual while the rest of the country suffers."
"Tell [Obama] that appearing close to Wall Street is no way to gain voters' trust that he's on our side."
The White House maintains the Bloomberg interview has been mischaracterized and that the president was not expressing approval of the massive Wall Street payouts.
"The President has said countless times as he did in the interview that he doesn't 'begrudge' the success of Americans, but he also expressed 'shock' at the size of bonuses and made clear that there are a number of steps that need to be taken to change the culture of Wall Street," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki wrote on the White House blog Thursday morning. "A sentiment he has consistently expressed since long before he took office."