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« Obama Gets Official Invite to Congress | Blog Home Page | Pelosi: Mass. Election Doesn't Change Anything »

White House Playing The Expectations And Blame Games

Gone are the optimistic pronouncements from White House aides that Martha Coakley will win. Instead, some subtle blame-shifting and no signal yet that the Obama administration plans to give up on health care despite an expected loss in Massachusetts tonight.

As late as Sunday, as Air Force One returned from Boston, press secretary Robert Gibbs was predicting victory. Today at the daily press briefing, Gibbs did his best to push off any comment on the situation in Massachusetts until the results were in. But he acknowledged there is still "a tremendous amount of upset and anger" about the nation's economic situation, implying that said unease continues to be a motivating factor for voters.

Still, Gibbs said that President Obama himself is "both surprised and frustrated" at the predicament the party finds itself in, trailing in the race for a Senate seat in the bluest of blue states. He declined to specify where that frustration was directed.

But senior adviser David Axelrod was a bit more transparent in criticizing the Coakley camp for a lackluster effort. In a gathering with regional reporters today, he said the White House "did everything we were asked to do" to help Coakley, adding: "I think if we had been asked earlier, we would have responded earlier."

And now, the knives seem to be out in full force between the Coakley camp and Washington Democrats. Politico has been reporting on the barbs being traded even before the polls close, with Coakley's camp accusing national Democrats of ignoring their pleas for help, and Washington sources responding with the accusation that her team has "been involved in the worst case of political malpractice in memory."

Back at the White House, Gibbs punted on whether there were alternative plans to pass health care if Scott Brown wins. But he did at one point say that the president does not plan to give up on passing a bill even if the Senate supermajority is no more.

"Health care is a priority for him now. It will be a priority for him tomorrow," Gibbs said.

On the topic of Obama's one-year anniversary in office, Gibbs said the president has learend "that change is never easy; that change takes time; that change has to go through Congress."

Still, he added: "I think there's an awful lot to be proud of in what has been accomplished."

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