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White House's Gibbs has mastered art of speaking with his hand

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

For Democrats, the only good thing to come from Tuesday's loss of the Senate election in Massachusetts is this: It could wipe the grin off Robert Gibbs's face.

The Democrats' failed struggle to hold onto Ted Kennedy's seat in the liberal state showed how badly the party's brand had been damaged over the past year. But as the White House press corps challenged President Obama's press secretary on Tuesday afternoon about the anticipated loss, Gibbs answered with his usual mix of wisecracks and insults.

"Broadly speaking, can you talk about the difference between 59 and 60 votes in the Senate and what that means for the president's agenda this year?"

"Broadly, it's one," Gibbs answered.

Will Obama hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss the results?

"Be here around 10 a.m. If we're not here, start without us."

"Is there something you could have done better," asked Sheryl Stolberg of the New York Times, so that "you wouldn't be in the situation that you're in right now?"

"Sheryl," Gibbs replied, "I'll read this transcript and think there's things that I could have done better." No doubt.

On Tuesday, he allowed that Obama was "angry" over Democrats' troubles in Massachusetts. "With whom is he angry?" a reporter asked.

"I didn't expand on that," the spokesman replied.

"Okay, can you now?"

"I won't now."


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