White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest doubled down on his call for Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to apologize to President Obama for accusing the president of being “disrespectful” to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
“Sen. Brown is a stand-up guy, and given the opportunity to review the comments that seemed like they were made in some haste, that I feel confident that he'll do the right thing and apologize,” Earnest told reporters at today’s press briefing. “I wouldn't necessarily expect a public apology, but we'll see how Sen. Brown chooses to pursue this.”
The White House's call for an apology from Brown comes after the Ohio senator accused President Obama of being "disrespectful" of Warren for suggesting in an interview with Yahoo News over the weekend that Warren was politically motivated in her opposition to the president's fast-track trade agreement.
"Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else," Obama told Yahoo. "She's got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don't stand the test of fact and scrutiny."
Asked about the public tiff by ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl today, Earnest sought to clarify that the president’s remarks were meant to relay that Warren is making a political argument. “The president's making a political argument, too,” Earnest said. “And we can have a robust difference of opinion and a robust debate.”
Earnest also took issue with Brown's suggestion that the president had been sexist by referring to Sen. Warren by her first name in the interview. “I think referring to her as first-name when he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps -- I've said enough," Brown said Tuesday.
“Well, Jon -- you don't mind if I call you Jon, do you?” Earnest quipped in reply when asked about it by Karl.
“There are a number of instances where the president has used the first name of the senator to reference them in public, both men and women, including multiple instances in which he's referred to Sherrod Brown as Sherrod in public setting,” he said.
Earnest first called on Brown to apologize for his comment in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier today. But in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell this afternoon, the Ohio Democrat stopped short of offering an apology.
"Yeah, I don't want this to be personal either way," Brown told Mitchell, while not responding directly to a question about whether he would apologize.