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Obama aide's emails captivate D.C.

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 7:54 p.m.

WASHINGTON — When not fighting with Republicans, the White House has been tangling with one of the capital's best-known and best-sourced reporters. But the Bob Woodward vs. White House sideshow moved to the center ring on Thursday. And much of the city paused to watch.

That's when Politico published an email exchange between Woodward, the celebrity investigative reporter and chronicler of presidents, and Gene Sperling, President Obama's top economic aide. Although Woodward had accused an Obama aide of rough treatment and veiled threats, the emails showed a much softer, genial exchange.

“I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim,” Sperling wrote.

“I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening,” Woodward responded.

The back-and-forth had some chuckling and others scoffing. The White House downplayed the matter as routine business.

“I think you cannot read those emails and come away with the impression that Gene was threatening anybody,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Still, the fight with Woodward has been an irksome distraction for a White House engaged in a high-stakes showdown with Congress over the federal budget.

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