WASHINGTON -- Democratic lawmakers have gotten into a major political argument with themselves.
The inside-party rancor stems from recent remarks by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the Democrats' prospects of keeping control of the House.
"There are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control," Gibbs told NBCs "Meet the Press" last Sunday. "There's no doubt about that."
His comments, which one White House official called "unscripted," sparked a week of analysis among pundits. They've also touched off in-fighting between House Democrats and White House staff.
"I think the comment was unfortunate," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
Some House Democrats have grumbled that the president isn't giving them enough political support in their races for re-election.
With midterm elections only four months away, Gibbs' comments forced the president to affirm his plans to help Democrats maintain their majority in the House.
"We have a solid organization on mobilization, on message, on money, the "M's" on the management of these campaigns. We fully intend to win," Pelosi said.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he knew the gloves would come off - he just didn't expect Democrats to be targeting each other.
"The panic that's building among Democrats erupted into a full-scale civil war this week," Boehner observed. "Understand that House Democrats are angry, because they see the White House throwing them under the bus."
The squabbling is surely a symptom of the high stakes for both Democrats and Republicans in this November's elections.
This week, former President Clinton advisor Robert Shapiro issued a wake up call to Democrats, warning them that not only the House, but also the Senate is in danger of falling to the GOP.
"The bottom line here is that Americans don't believe in President Obama's leadership," Shapiro told the Financial Times.
"He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence," Shapiro added. "And short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can't think of how he could do that."