The White House on Thursday refused to say whether U.S. Rep Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania, was ever offered a federal job if he would drop his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter.
Sestak has said that he was offered that deal last year in an effort to get him not to run against Specter. He has sought to move beyond the point but still stands by his statement — as he again did in a CNN interview on Wednesday — that he had been offered a job to avoid challenging Specter.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs got several questions about the matter on Thursday, given that Sestak is now the Democratic nominee.
Gibbs answered: "I don't have anything to add."
Instead, Gibbs referred repeatedly to his statement from March 16.
At that time, Gibbs said he had checked into the matter and that "I'm told that whatever conversations have been had are not problematic. I think Congressman Sestak has discussed that this is — whatever happened is in the past, and he's focused on his primary election."
When reporters sought fresh clarification about what was said in those conversations, or a clear denial from the White House that Sestak had been offered a job, Gibbs had nothing new to say.
In the CNN interview on Wednesday, Sestak said: "I've said I was offered something. I don't have to go beyond that. I don't think it helps anybody."
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said Thursday that the American public is still looking for a straight answer from the White House on an accusation of political corruption. "It is unacceptable for an administration that touts itself as the `most transparent' in history to continue to stonewall," he said.
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