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Durbin says GOP leader told Obama: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you’

During one of the fruitless negotiating sessions during the government shutdown, a member of the House Republican leadership said to President Obama, “I cannot even stand to look at you,” according to Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who is also the Democratic whip in the Senate.

UPDATE: According to White House press secretary Jay Carney, who took a question about this in his briefing today, he had spoken to someone who was at the meeting in question and the incident described by Durbin “Did not happen.”

Durbin described the incident in a post on his Facebook page. I’m not suggesting he would make up such an exchange, but in deciding how much to believe Durbin’s account, bear in mind that Durbin didn’t disclose the identity of the Republican who allegedly made the disrespectful remark and the Republican who allegedly made the remark hasn’t explained what led him to say it… UPDATE … and that now the White House is dismissing Durbin’s account.

In his Facebook post, Durbin described why he was making the incident public. Here’s the full text of his post:

“Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.’
What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?”

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/23/2013 - 11:25 am.

    And that’s what they say

    in public!

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/23/2013 - 11:57 am.


    Like they say in the Army, you salute the uniform, not the man. You may not like the person who outranks you, but it still requires a certain minimal level of decorum. Yelling “you lie” in the chambers or telling someone “I can’t stand to look at you” during negotiations is simply not acceptable. We can and should require a higher level of behavior from our representatives.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/23/2013 - 01:12 pm.

    Non-denial denial

    Neither Boehner or Cantor recall the remark being made.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/23/2013 - 01:40 pm.

      The usual weasel

      They’re not denying that it was said, and if someone comes up with a video showing that it was said in their presence, ‘I don’t remember’ lets them off the hook.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/23/2013 - 03:20 pm.

    The remark reported by the Senator rings true, somehow: many analysts nationally have wondered what it is that makes Republicans argue so fiercely and so automatically against all Obama initiatives, even when–like Obamacare–they are based totally on Republican plans and programs. Their conclusion: they just can’t stand the man (or, especially, his blackness).

    And, “Republican leadership” in the House: we can only be speaking of Boehner, Cantor or Ryan–or is there someone else whose name simply doesn’t come up in the news?

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/23/2013 - 05:11 pm.

      Just because some republican

      bureaucrat at a think tank thought it was a good idea doesn’t make it a “republican idea.” Perhaps you missed the republican debates last year where Mitt Romney was constantly put in the position of having to defend his decidedly-anti conservative policy in Massachusetts.

      No conservative has ever endorsed mandatory anything.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/23/2013 - 07:59 pm.

        ‘The only real conservatives

        are me and thee, and I have my doubts about thee’.
        (with apologies to the Society of Friends).

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 10/23/2013 - 09:28 pm.


        Republicans never endorsed anything mandatory? My history books would beg to differ, especially when it comes to the draft. I guess we must have had all volunteer armies in WWII and the Vietnam War.

        A conservative think tank worked out Obamacare and a conservative governor implemented it. Short of a miracle turning water into wine, that pretty much makes that pony a Republican horse.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/24/2013 - 08:42 am.

    Turns out it never happened

    JACKIE CALMES, NEW YORK TIMES: Just to follow up on that. In terms of the president talking to Republicans, can you rule out — there was the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, said on his Facebook page that someone in recent exchange with the president said he can’t even stand, this member of Congress, that he can’t even stand to look at the president. Can you say whether that happened?

    JAY CARNEY: I will say this, I spoke with somebody who was in that meeting and it did not happen.

    QUESTION: Did the White House speak to Senator Durbin about this?

    CARNEY: I don’t know. My understanding is that, again, from participants in the meeting that that didn’t happen.

    QUESTION: Did anything like it happen that would —

    CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of, Jackie.

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