WASHINGTON: His second-term agenda on the line, President Barack Obama urged his most ardent supporters Monday to mount a summertime show of support that can rival any opposition Obama and Democrats may face from constituents next month. “We’ve got to get folks activated and involved,” Obama declared.
Joined by top Democratic leaders, Obama addressed a nonprofit group formed expressly to push his agenda, imploring its volunteers and donors not to let up the pressure in his waning years in office. Alluding to his own limitations despite being re-elected, he acknowledged “things still get stuck here in Washington” even when he delivers on his end.
“Naturally it’s not going to be as full of razzmatazz as a campaign. First of all, we don’t have a billion dollars to spend,” Obama said. “Nonetheless, in some ways this stuff is more important.”
But even with his last election behind him, the event had a campaign feel as Obama stood before about 300 supporters of Organizing for Action, a group formed from the remnants of the president’s 2012 campaign with the goal of building public support for his second-term priorities.
In barely a week, lawmakers will fan out across the country, returning to their home districts for the annual summer break. At town hall meetings and picnics and public events, they’ll hear firsthand from constituents.
With a tough path ahead for Obama’s major goals — including an immigration overhaul, the economy and the rollout of his health-care law — his supporters want to ensure that lawmakers of both parties return to Washington with a mandate to work with Obama. So, Organizing for Action, with a presidential assist, is seeking to get activists energized and ready to speak up.
The top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, called the group’s supporters “ambassadors who will reach out to the public to make sure they understand what is at stake.”
“Nothing is more eloquent to a member of Congress than the voice of his or her own constituent,” Pelosi said.
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed not to let up the fight either.
Republicans said Obama’s time would be better spent finding a way to work with Congress rather than reverting to campaign tactics.
“The president needs help spinning Americans during August recess because his speeches haven’t started hiring,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.
Obama is also revving up for a series of speeches starting Wednesday aimed at building support ahead of upcoming budget deadlines and a likely battle with Republicans over the nation’s borrowing limit.
“I’ve got a little over 1,200 days left in office,” Obama said to melancholy moans from his die-hard supporters. “I am going to spend every waking minute of every one of those days thinking about — and then acting upon — any good ideas out there that are going to help ordinary Americans succeed.”