Appearing on Meet the Press on Sunday, Senior White House adviser David Plouffe refused to answer whether President Barack Obama believes race played a role in the case surrounding the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Obama weighed in on the case for the first time on Friday.
Meet the Press anchor David Gregory asked Plouffe whether the president “believes at its core” that this case was about “racial profiling.” Plouffe demurred.
“The president spoke Friday very powerfully about this,” Plouffe said instead of answering. “He spoke as a father and obviously he said if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
“No matter the gender, no matter the race, any time you lose a young person, particularly a promising young person, it’s a tragedy,” Plouffe added. “So, our focus needs to be on sympathy for the family in this instance. There’s investigations going on on the local level and on the federal level.”
“But does he [Obama] think race was a factor here?” Gregory asked again.
“Listen, we have to have the investigation here,” Plouffe said. “I don’t think we want to get ahead of that. I think everybody would be well served to let the investigation continue at both the local level and the federal level and let that transpire in the right way, in the appropriate way and we’ll see where the facts lead us.”
Gregory then pushed Plouffe even further.
“But the country is having this conversation,” Gregory said. “Obviously, there’s violence that goes on in this country every day. The president of the United States would not have spoken out about this this personally with an African American victim if he did not believe race was at the core of this.”
But Plouffe still wouldn’t answer whether Obama thinks race played a role.
“Well, I think the issue here is there is a great deal of attention on this case — as there should be, obviously,” Plouffe said. “And, I think that it has galvanized a lot of people to get interested in this. Again, as the president said, we need to examine the causes that led to this. But our focus now ought to be on the tragedy that befell this family, the tragedy of losing this promising young life, and make sure the investigation is done thoroughly.”
Gregory then asked Plouffe if Obama has called Martin’s parents, pointing out that the president called liberal activist and Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke after radio talker Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” on the air.
“He has not yet [called Trayvon’s parents], to my knowledge,” Plouffe responded.
Gregory followed by asking Plouffe if Obama would “like to” talk to Martin’s parents. Plouffe wouldn’t answer. “I think he spoke pretty powerfully on Friday,” he said instead.
Plouffe also declined to comment on whether Obama will participate in a “National Summit on Race” that MSNBC host and liberal political figure the Rev. Al Sharpton is calling for this coming week.
WATCH: Senior White House adviser David Plouffe dodges questions Trayvon Martin killing
During a similar but much shorter exchange with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Plouffe also demurred when pushed on whether Obama believes race played a role in Martin’s killing.
The White House’s newfound tepidness when it comes to the racial aspects of this case stands in stark contrast to the outspoken feelings of liberal activists on the case.
Sharpton has led the charge in fanning the flames of racial politics in this tragedy, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., has said he thinks Martin’s killing indicates that “blacks are under attack” in America. Outspoken film director Spike Lee has retweeted the home address of George Zimmerman – the man who shot Martin – to his 245,000 followers at least twice since Friday.
The New Black Panthers, meanwhile, have distributed signs and fliers demanding that Zimmerman be apprehended “dead or alive” and have offered cash rewards for information leading to a citizens’ arrest.