White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged Thursday morning that White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina talked last September with Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, about possible administration jobs he might be qualified for if he didn’t challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in the Democratic primary.
Last night, Romanoff issued a statement stating that Messina had floated the possibility of three jobs – including two at the US Agency for International Development – if he didn’t run for Senate. Romanoff turned Messina down and is challenging Bennet, whom President Obama endorsed.
The Gibbs statement didn’t contradict the one offered last night by Romanoff, though Gibbs added that Romanoff had “applied for a position at USAID during the Presidential transition. He filed this application through the Transition on-line process. After the new administration took office, he followed up by phone with White House personnel.”
Gibbs said that “Messina called and emailed Romanoff last September to see if he was still interested in a position at USAID, or if, as had been reported, he was running for the US Senate. Months earlier, the President had endorsed Senator Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters. But Romanoff said that he was committed to the Senate race and no longer interested in working for the Administration, and that ended the discussion. As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job.”
The job discussions have received added attention after the controversy involving the White House enlisting former President Bill Clinton to try to convince Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Penn., to not challenge Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Penn., in the Pennsylvania primary. Sestak, too, decided to run and he ultimately beat Specter.
Bennet has led Romanoff in public polling; the Colorado Democratic primary is in August.
– Jake Tapper