By Jonathan Weisman
In his closed door meeting with House Democrats Tuesday night, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama delivered a real zinger, according to a witness, suggesting that he was beginning to believe his own hype.
Obama was waxing lyrical about last week's trip to Europe, when he concluded, according to the meeting attendee, "this is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world is waiting for."
The 200,000 souls who thronged to his speech in Berlin came not just for him, he told the enthralled audience of congressional representatives. "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," he said, according to the source.
On Wednesday morning, House leadership aides pushed back against interpretations of this comment as self-aggrandizing, saying that when the presumptive Democratic nominee said, "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America," he was actually trying to deflect attention from himself.
No tape of the event exists and no one is denying the quote.
But one leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context. According to that aide, Obama said, "It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign -- that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol."