July 15, 2010— -- Anger is mounting on Capitol Hill, directed at President Obama. But this time, it's not coming from Republicans -- it's coming from members of the president's own party.
After months of growing frustration, Congressional Democratic leaders exploded this week, saying the president isn't giving them the support they need ahead of the coming mid-term elections, despite their tough work on his behalf.
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White House spokesman Robert Gibbs lit the fuse with a comment suggesting that Democrats could lose the House of Representatives when voters head to the polls in November.
"I opened my mouth and stated the obvious," Gibbs said, defending himself on Monday.
But many House Democrats thought Gibbs' remarks were an attempt by the White House to distance itself from an impending loss, and they didn't appreciate it.
"I think the comment was unfortunate," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,D-Calif., told reporters Thursday. Democrats said Pelosi voiced much frustration about the remark during a closed-door meeting of the Democratic caucus Tuesday night.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fl), who has a leadership role with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in working to ensure freshmen Democrats are re-elected, said Gibbs' comments did not make her happy -- and were "completely wrong. We're not going to lose the House of Representatives," she said.
Gibbs' comments seemed to have lit a fuse prompting even larger gripe sessions among House Democrats on Tuesday and with the president himself on Wednesday evening, where they aired a number of complaints.
One Democratic lawmaker explained the frustration, telling ABC News, "There's a general sense, and it goes back for a while, that Obama has a general thrust of 'We've got to do tough things' and then he says to Congress, 'OK, you guys go do that.'"
"He does that without providing us enough cover or guidance," he continued. "You saw it during health care, you saw it during financial reform. "
"We're doing a lot of heavy lifting for him," the Congressman added, "and it's almost as if the guys in the White House are saying, 'You should be saying thank you to us.' And it's, 'What the f---? Thank you? We did all the work -- you're taking all the credit!"
One top Democrat told ABC News that during the Wednesday meeting with congressional leaders, Obama wanted to "disabuse them of any notion that he didn't want and wouldn't fight for a Democratic House," pledging better communication.
The Democrat acknowledged it was remarkable that the president felt the need to offer such reassurance, given that voters will head to the polls in less than four months.
Wasserman-Schultz said President Obama had been very helpful in working to re-elect Democrats, and much of the controversy was overblown.
"There's always room for improvement, and I know our members would like to see the president out there more, talking about our accomplishments," Wasserman-Schultz said. "We want to make sure we consistently have the Executive Branch and the House on the same page."