WASHINGTON (CN) – The White House acknowledged on Thursday that one of President Obama’s advisers called former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff and listed three positions available if he dropped his primary challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet, whom Obama endorsed. The White House said Romanoff sought a job in the Obama administration before entering the Senate race.
Romanoff applied for a position at the U.S. Agency for International Development before President Obama took office, and then followed up with a phone call to the White House after the administration was up and running, the White House said in a statement Thursday morning.
The White House also said Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina called the Romanoff last September to ask if the Colorado Democrat was still interested in an administration position or if, as reports had it, he was running for the Colorado Senate seat instead.
Obama had already announced that he was endorsing incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet for the Colorado seat, and “Messina wanted to determine if it was possible to avoid a costly battle between two supporters,” the White House said.
Bennet was appointed by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to replace Ken Salazar when Salazar was named Interior Secretary in the Obama administration.
Romanoff confirmed Wednesday that he received a call from Messina in September about his decision to run for the Senate.
“In September 2009, shortly after the news media first reported my plans to run for the Senate, I received a call from Jim Messina, the president’s deputy chief of staff,” Romanoff said in a statement. “Mr. Messina informed me that the White House would support Sen. Bennet. I informed Mr. Messina that I had made my decision to run.”
That same day, Messina emailed Romanoff with three potential positions open to him if he dropped out of the Senate race. The positions included deputy assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID, director of the Office of Democracy and Governance at USAID, and director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
Romanoff declined the job suggestions via phone, leaving Messina a message indicating that he “would not change course,” he said. “At no time was I promised a job, nor did I request Mr. Messina’s assistance in obtaining one,” Romanoff said.
“As Mr. Romanoff has stated, there was no offer of a job,” the White House said. The White House said Romanoff’s statement that he was continuing with the Senate race “ended the discussion.”
The Colorado primary will be held Aug. 10.