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Pelosi rebuts Obama-muting incident used in Romney campaign ad

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is denying she muted a call from President Obama last year -- a story that originated in Bob Woodward’s latest book and has now made its way into Mitt Romney’s newest campaign ad.

Woodward’s book, “The Price of Politics,” cited an incident during the fight over the national debt limit in 2011, during which Obama placed a call to the House Democratic leader and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

By Woodward’s account, Pelosi hit the mute button as Obama was in the midst of an “uplifting speech,” and carried on her conversation with Reid as Obama, apparently unaware, continued speaking.

“If he cannot lead his own party, how can he lead America?” the Romney campaign ad’s asks, seeking to question the president’s performance at the helm during the combative negotiations.

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Pelosi, however, remembers things differently.

“As Speaker and as Democratic leader, any call from the president would be treated with great formality and respect,” she said in a statement released Sunday. “There was absolutely no situation in which either President Bush or President Obama were cut off from speaking. I respect the office of the president and the office of the Speaker, including the historic nature of any communication between these two offices.”

This isn’t the first time that Pelosi has refuted Woodward’s recount of the call. She dismissed his reporting this month in an interview with Politico, saying that she takes care to clear the room and take notes when Obama speaks to her.

Woodward isn’t backing down, telling Politico’s Mike Allen in an email that a senior member of the Obama administration was present during the call, which he says was given the nickname “the speakerphone episode” within the White House.

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morgan.little@latimes.com

Twitter: @mlittledc


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