By Christi Parsons
7:50 AM PDT, April 15, 2011
Reporting from Chicago
President Obama gave supporters in Chicago a glimpse of insider Washington during a fundraiser Thursday night, casually critiquing House Republicans, government workers and even the White House telephones.
While the words themselves weren’t that newsworthy – Republicans tried to play him in recent budget talks, he said, and some federal workers are kind of lazy – the means of delivery has the White House a little red-faced Friday morning.
The late-night remarks were accidentally piped back into the White House press room, where a couple of diligent reporters heard them and took notes.
Their wire reports and Twitter updates show the president in casual mode, a rare thing to slip through his highly disciplined and scripted operation.
According to veteran newsman Mark Knoller, of CBS radio, Obama ridiculed GOP efforts to whittle away at healthcare reform "by nickel-and-diming me in the budget."
"You think we're stupid?" Obama said he told the Republicans.
Obama appears to have offered a defense of federal workers, saying he thinks they compare favorably to private sector workers, but government employees may find more memorable his description of the exceptions to that rule.
He said some government workers are "slugs and not trying to do their job," according to the Knoller report.
White House information technology isn’t much better, in the president's appraisal. When it comes to technology, he says, "we are like 30 years behind."
"We can't get our phones to work!" Obama reportedly complained.
While reporters were in the room, Obama delivered the flattest set of remarks of the night. At an earlier fundraiser, he had just given donors a spirited critique of Republican plans for Medicare, and later in the evening he would fire up a crowd of 2,300 with Chicago Bulls players at his side and a Bulls cap on his head.
But after the pool reporters were hustled out of the event at MK restaurant, the 50 or so Democrats giving the maximum contribution got a little something extra for their $38,000 and change.
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