POLITICS: PennAve

Dick Durbin claim about Obama insult refuted by GOP leaders, White House

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Barack Obama,Republican Party,John Boehner,PennAve,Dick Durbin,Government Shutdown

Top House Republican leaders -- backed by the White House -- are refuting a claim by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that a high-level GOP lawmaker told President Obama in a recent private meeting, "I cannot even stand to look at you."

The incident, according to a message Durbin posted on his Facebook page, took place during closed-door negotiations at the White House during the 16-day government shutdown.

White House spokesman Jay Carney disputed Durbin's claim Wednesday, citing information provided by "a participant in the meeting" .

"It did not happen," Carney said.

House Republicans were angered over the accusation and demanded Durbin provide more specifics to back up his account.

“Sen. Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. "The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately and apologize.”

Both House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who attended the White House meetings, say they did not make the comment and did not hear anyone else make the comment.

“The speaker certainly didn’t say that, and does not recall anyone else doing so,” another Boehner aide, Michael Steel, told the Washington Examiner.

A spokesman for Durbin said he "stands by his comments."

A Senate leadership aide confirmed that Durbin did author the disputed claim and posted on his U.S. Senate campaign Facebook page.

Durbin posted the claim on Oct. 20 as part of a broader criticism of the GOP over the shutdown.

"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," Durbin wrote. "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?"

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