POLITICS
05/17/2010 03:54 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

White House Pre-Spins Tuesday's Elections

The Obama administration began the process of pre-spinning Tuesday's slate of primary elections, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs telling reporters that the president has been following the races "not that closely."

Asked repeatedly during Monday's briefing to discuss the governing implications of Tuesday's vote in Arkansas and Pennsylvania (where Obama-endorsed candidates could find themselves in a run-off or a primary loss respectively), Gibbs refused to play ball.

"I'm happy to talk about the results when they happen," he said, likening anything more than that to predicting the results of the NBA Finals before the first game's tip-off.

But when pressed a bit further about what message is being sent if Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) lose or Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is unable to get 50 percent of the vote, Gibbs acted as if the elections portend next to nothing for Obama himself.

"Obviously, we have appeared in commercials [for Specter and Lincoln]," he said. "But I don't think the two sides have argued about [the president] per se. Again we will have a chance to talk about the results and the outcomes and what they mean."

In a practical sense, Gibbs is correct. Both Lt. Gov Bill Halter and Rep. Joe Sestak stand as good (if not better) a shot of winning a Senate seat should they end up with their party's nomination. The fact remains, however, that the White House (through a policy of endorsing incumbents and recruiting Specter to switch political parties) has put some capital behind each of its candidates. And if either Specter or Lincoln have a poor showing, it will be treated as much as a reflection of the anti-incumbent mood in the country as the diminished ability of Obama to sway a particular race.

"Everyone knows that [sic] we supported in those two races," Gibbs said. "Again, we have supported incumbent Democratic senators and we have done a lot on behalf of each campaign. Again there are races all over the country that we will have to look at the Republican and Democratic side as to what it means."