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Flashback: WH Denounced Non-Candidate Statements as ‘Kabuki’

During the September 6, 2011 White House Press Briefing, then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed coverage of comments made by Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa during a rally for the president as “kabuki.”

When asked about Hoffa’s comments, in which he said “let’s take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong” in reference to Republicans, Carney responded “first of all, those weren’t comments by the president.” (Although the president did say he was “proud” of Hoffa.)

Carney continued, “I understand that there is a ritual in Washington that, you know, somebody says something and you link the associations and then everybody who has an association with him or her is somehow — has to avow or disavow it. The president wasn’t there — I mean, he wasn’t on the stage. He didn’t speak for another 20 minutes. He didn’t hear it.”

After CNN anchor Jake Tapper (who was working for ABC at the time), followed-up “OK, well, some of us covered the campaign and recall a time when somebody made some harsh comments about then-Senator Obama while — during the introduction of a McCain rally. And the Obama campaign was offended and expected an apology, and Senator McCain came out and did so,” Carney stated “Mr. Hoffa speaks for himself. He speaks for the labor movement — AFL-CIO. The president speaks for himself. I speak for the president. You know, what the president was glad to do yesterday, was have the opportunity to present his views on the importance of working Americans and on the importance of taking measures to help working Americans, to create jobs and grow the economy.”

Tapper then stated “I’d rather not have to do this Washington kabuki every time something happens, but if that’s — if that’s the standard —”

Carney then argued “the standard is we should focus on the actions we can take to grow the economy and create jobs instead of focusing on kabuki theater.”

(h/t Jake Tapper)

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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