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White House Downplays Leadership ‘Gaps’ in Debt Negotiations

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is seeking to downplay a report that “gaps” in President Obama’s leadership contributed to the failure of a “grand bargain” in the debt crisis negotiations of last year.

In his latest book, The Price of Politics, and in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer which aired Monday evening, journalist Bob Woodward says the president lacked the “stamina” to cultivate personal relationships within Congress that would have helped break the ice during the tense discussions. The fallout eventually resulted in the short-term solution Capitol Hill is left to deal with as it returns Monday from five weeks out of session.

White House press secretary Jay Carney Monday doubled down on the administration’s official stance that hardliner members within the GOP stonewalled compromise during those furious months. Obama remained “absolutely committed” to avoiding a default of the federal government, Carney said, a notion “Republicans, notably in the House of Representatives, seem to relish the prospect of coming about.”

“There is no question that the president during those negotiations had to be the responsible party and ensure that however they ended, they prevented default,” he said.

The spokesman was dismissive when asked whether the president regretted developing deeper personal relationships with the top Democrats and Republicans involved.

“It’s a funny conclusion to reach,” Carney shot back, highlighting hours Obama spent with congressional leaders over golf and other leisure activities. But the secretary maintained that regardless of the weakness or strength of the president’s bonds with politicians, it mattered little.

“I’m not sure what magical past people are invoking where they imagine that in any recent time, serious accomplishments were achieved in policy matters at a dinner in Georgetown,” he told reporters.  "It doesn’t happen.  And what has to happen is that leaders have to be willing on behalf of all of the American people to compromise and take risk, and not to worry about whether they’re going to get a challenge from the Tea Party in their next congressional primary.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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