• 5 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Diplomacy, Iran Election 2009

Gibbs’ “elected leader” gaffe

Robert GibbsA major controversy erupted yesterday when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Ahmadinejad is Iran’s “elected leader.” NIAC has been told by a White House official that Gibbs was not recognizing Ahmadinejad as the winner of the most recent election, but was referring to the previous election.

For an administration that has taken pains not to take sides in Iran’s election dispute, this obviously wasn’t one of Gibbs’ best moments. The statement was quickly picked up by Iran’s state media.

In the absence of confirmation by other White House officials, this should be interpreted as a poorly constructed statement — not administration policy. The administration has been walking a tightrope, condemning the human rights abuses in Iran while allowing Iranians to sort out their own election dispute.

President Obama himself has been the main driver behind the American approach to Iran, and he will have the final word.

Update: Gibbs Clarifies Statement

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Gibbs walked back his statement about Ahmadinejad:

“Let me correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say that’s not for me to pass judgment on,” Gibbs said.

“He’s been inaugurated. That’s a fact. Whether any election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that, and we’ll let them decide about that.”

Posted By David Elliott

David Elliott is the Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council.

    6 Responses to “Gibbs’ “elected leader” gaffe”

  1. tehran says:

    Shame on you Gibbs! Shame on you Obama! You are siding with dictators.

  2. Artin says:

    NIAC has word from the White House that Gibbons made a gaffe- he did not recognize Ahmadinejad as the winner of this election

  3. Sasan says:

    A statement like this legitimizes the Ahmadinejad administration, and is actually “meddling” by the US. We need to write letters to the White House and protest this statement. At least until the White House retracts its statement and continues the “no meddling, but condemning human rights violations” policy.

  4. Pirouz says:

    Yes, the election is disputed. However, Ahmadinejad has been sworn in and unless he is forced to step down, he will be the President that the world, including the US, will have to deal with.

  5. eric says:

    I only care what President Obama has to say. Gibbs is not President, and Iranians need to remember that.

  6. Shima says:

    Gibbs speaks on behalf of the president. You couldn’t get me to say that Ahmadinejad is an “elected leader” even if you paid me. So for him to think of Ahmadinejad as an “elected leader” is inexcusable… even if it is a gaffe.

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