Conservatives and others have objected to the invite saying the rapper glorifies the killing of police officers in his lyrics.
Spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama has spoken out against violent music lyrics. He also said media reports about Common's participation in Tuesday night's East Room event distort what the rapper stands for.
Common has earned praise for being a socially conscious rapper, said Carney. He also said the president appreciates the rapper's work trying to get children in their Chicago hometown interested in poetry.
Republican strategist Karl Rove and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have expressed displeasure at the White House for inviting Common.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.