White House mum on Reid criticism of Obama

WASHINGTON -- The White House on Monday chose not to respond to criticism by Sen. Harry Reid that President Barack Obama can at times be too soft on Republicans.

In an interview Friday, the Senate majority leader described Obama as "a person who doesn't like confrontation. He is a peacemaker and sometimes I think you have to be a little more forceful, and sometimes I don't think he is enough with the Republicans."

"On a few occasions I think he should have been more firm with those on the other side of the aisle," Reid told political pundit Jon Ralston on his television show, "Face to Face."

Asked about Reid's comments on Monday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs began to question whether they were taken out of context.

Assured they were not, Gibbs said, "I don't have anything to say."

The interview was conducted a few hours after Obama departed Las Vegas. At a political rally on Thursday and at a speech Friday at UNLV, Obama praised Reid and urged his re-election in December.

Ralston challenged Reid to name something on which he disagreed with Obama.

"Health care went on for many months," Reid said. "Much of that early scrimmaging was done in the Senate itself and the White House did not come in until later.

"Now, we came up with a great product and I'm sure he can look back and say, 'I was right.' But boy, for me down in the trenches, there was time when I wanted to keep the folks in the White House behind me."

When Ralston suggested Obama did not have political instincts to match Reid, the Nevadan said Obama "is a very strong man. He is calm, cool, deliberate. But sometimes I would like him to be confrontational. He isn't and that is who he is."

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.