Obama Revs Up Dems As Election Year Encroaches
WASHINGTON -- If President Barack Obama and Democrats have their way, voters will see this year’s midterm elections as a stark choice: Republicans pushing failed policies from a bygone era versus Democrats advocating for freedom and opportunity for all Americans.
Far be it for Republicans to cede that argument. The GOP has its own designs for 2014, hoping to paint Democrats as a party whose promises of jobs, effective government and affordable health care have all fallen flat.
None of those critiques were on display Friday evening, as Obama rallied the party faithful at a Democratic National Committee summit. Instead, Obama rattled off a list of issues where he said Republicans were stuck in the past: gay rights, women’s equality, wages and health care, to name a few.
"What they are offering is not a new theory," Obama said, asserting that Republicans had advocated the same policies in the run-up to the Great Depression, the recent recession and the 2012 election. "And the American people said, "No, thanks.’"
In a boisterous and decidedly partisan speech, Obama seized the opportunity to mock Republicans - to the delight of the Democratic officials, donors and activists who packed a hotel ballroom near the White House. While acknowledging early setbacks in rolling out his health care law, Obama ridiculed his political foes for trying time and again to repeal the law.
"You know what they say: Fiftieth time is the charm," Obama said to laughter. "Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote you will win a prize."
Riffing on women’s rights and the GOP, Obama quipped: "This isn’t 1954. It’s 2014."
Such partisan rhetoric from the president had the desired effect of revving up members of his party, some of whom are openly fretting that the unpopular health law, Obama’s low approval ratings and historical trends could all work in Republicans’ favor this year.
But it also served as a clear reminder that the encroaching election, with all the political posturing it will bring, augers poorly for anything Obama wants to accomplish with Congress this year. After all, 2014 offers Obama potentially the last opportunity to secure legislative achievements before attention turns to the 2016 presidential election and Obama’s successor.