WH: Electing House Dems 'not a focus' of Obama's for now
March 4th, 2013
01:52 PM ET
2 years ago

WH: Electing House Dems 'not a focus' of Obama's for now

Washington (CNN) – Wrangling with House Republicans over reducing the federal deficit hasn't spurred President Barack Obama into early action helping fellow Democrats regain control of the chamber, the White House said Monday.

With the 2014 midterm elections twenty months in the future, Obama has other goals aside from getting members of his party elected, according to his press secretary Jay Carney.

"It goes without saying the president wants those in his party to do well, but it's not a focus of his, particularly, at this point," Carney said. "He is focused on trying to get a bipartisan consensus around some very important policy objectives."

Those goals include hammering out a big deal with Republicans on reducing the federal deficit, which has thus far eluded the president. While Republicans favor spending cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, Obama and Democrats want to further increase revenue by increasing taxes on wealthy Americans.

But the goals don't end with the debt – Obama has also pressed Congress to pass measures aimed at reducing gun violence, and to approve comprehensive immigration reform legislation. While Republicans have said they're open to certain facets of both, neither is considered a done deal.

While items of Obama's second term agenda would certainly glide through Congress more easily if the House was controlled by Democrats, Carney said Monday Obama was optimistic large pieces of legislation could succeed while Republican were in control.

"The president certainly believes, as other presidents have before him have believed, that its easier sometimes to enact your agenda when you have more members of your party in Congress, but it is also the president's belief – and it is established in fact in recent history – that you can achieve important policy objectives with divided government," Carney said.

While the White House claims Obama's focus now isn't on electing Democrats to Congress in 2014, he will eventually become involved in his party's attempt to win seats in the midterm elections. Last month, Democratic officials said the president would attend 14 fundraisers in 2013 for Congressional Democrats.

The officials said Obama would appear at 10 events for candidates outside of Washington – five each for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Each committee will also host an event featuring the president in D.C., and Obama will attend two joint galas for Democratic candidates.

On Sunday, Rep. Steve Israel, the top Democrat charged with electing members of his party to the House, told the Washington Post that Obama needed a Democratic majority to secure his presidential legacy.

“The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now," Israel told the Post.

Later, he explained further to CNN's Candy Crowley that Democrats favor compromise while Republicans were opposed to working across the aisle.

"What the president needs is more conversation about compromise and less cheering for the lack of compromise," Israel said on "State of the Union."

Republicans currently hold a 232-200 majority in the lower chamber. Three seats are vacant. In the Senate, Democrats will be defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs in 2014. The president is the Democratic Party's biggest draw, and raised a record amount of money during his 2012 bid for re-election.

But during that campaign, when the president was busy campaigning to get himself re-elected, his efforts to help House Democrats win back the majority were virtually limited to recording one robo-call for Tammy Duckworth, who was running for Congress in his home state of Illinois.

That made House Democrats frustrated with the president and his political operatives. While Democrats gained seats in the House in 2012, they failed to win back the majority.

With the current balance of power in the House, Democrats need 17 seats to win back the majority in 2014.

CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.


Filed under: House Democrats • President Obama
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Jean

    The sad thing is that I do not believe one thing Jay Carney, or Obama for that matter, says anymore.

    March 4, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. Donna

    Electing House Dems 'not a focus' of Obama's for now
    ----

    Well, if there is one that we have learned over the last 4 years, it is if Obama claims he isn't doing something, he's doing it.

    March 4, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. MrBeenThere

    @Jean
    And you believe everything the GOP has been spoon feeding you for the last 12 years ?????
    Look where that's gotten us so far.................

    March 4, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. jeff

    Jay Carney is a puppet, he will say whatever he is told to say. The president staarting work on 2014 elections, on the night he was re-elected. He had both houses his 1st 2 years, and the only thing he got was ObamaCare, Now days all he does is campaign.

    March 4, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. A True Conservative

    Right – I believe that – sure – anything you say. Now all you need is for the public to feel the pain of sequestration....anybody? Anybody? Has anyone noticed? You will feel it immediately – well not immediately – in a week or two – or three – er months that is – maybe........

    March 4, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. just sayin

    so why is obama still out on campaign style events the last two months? does this mean obama is actually going to stay in Dc and do his job instead of run around the country every week giving speeches? yeah, right, don't hold your breath. campaign is all obama knows how to do. govern? no. lead? no. campaign endlessly? yes.

    March 4, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Who are you kidding? Obtaining and increasing power is the ONLY thing Obama is focused on... in his own words, "laser-focused".

    March 4, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Getoverit

    Of course it's not a focus. The media will do it for him.

    March 4, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    And what was the Bush/Cheney/Rove focus from Day 1 in 2001 ? Ask George O'Neil or Colin Powell any other former Bush guy who had a moral Moment of Truth.

    March 4, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Reality Check

    Obama HAS to campaign to get the House back in 2014 in order to bludgeon through the remainder of his far left agenda. Obama isn't the President of the United States as much as he is the President of the Far Left Democrat Party. He is not trying to raise all boats, just trying to destroy all the larger boats so your leaky dingy looks bigger.

    March 4, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. Fair is Fair

    sonny chapman

    And what was the Bush/Cheney/Rove focus from Day 1 in 2001 ?
    ------
    Another semi-finalist in todays "I know you are but what am I" sweepstakes.

    March 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. plain&simple

    Good presidents take the pulse of the nation,they communicate their policy to the country,they listen to the feedback. Then they ask congress and the Senate to do thesame. At that point you govern. To obstruct ,to not budge ,is not governing! This is not rocket science!

    March 4, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. kayla

    and the hate continues

    March 4, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. critical thinking

    Lets see, he said he was going to cut the deficit in half and he doubled it and couldn't cut it by 2.3% recently. He said he was closing gitmo in his first year and it's still open 5 years later. So when he says anything, just presume the opposite. He is now and forever President Barack Opposite Obama.

    March 4, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Lisa P.

    jeff

    Jay Carney is a puppet, he will say whatever he is told to say. The president staarting work on 2014 elections, on the night he was re-elected. He had both houses his 1st 2 years, and the only thing he got was ObamaCare, Now days all he does is campaign.
    March 4, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Funny - I thought I read something down the page about the House GOP activating their campaign branch to get out a message that Obama is entirely and soley to blame for the sequester. And what was that that Mitch McConnell said in January 2009, three years before the next Presidential election cycle? I'm pretty sure it wasn't "The 2008 election is over and we lost, but now we all must join together to work with our newly elected President for the good of the country."

    When your opponents are in campaign mode 24/7/365 then someone on your side better be thinking that way as well. I doubt that's the President because he doesn't particularly like campaigning (and seems pretty happy that he never will have to again), but that still leaves a lot of Democrats who are pretty angry about being gerrymandered out of the House and filibustered out of the Senate. We would love to clear out the leadership of the party that thinks of nothing but catering to their wealthiest donors and electing a few more know-nothings to vote in lockstep for anything that keeps the government from functioning like it should. And if that means that we too have to focus like a laser on 2014 then so be it. It's not like the Republicans have any honest, forward-thinking policy proposals anyway - just obstruction, unworkable nonsense and poorly informed nostalgia for an America that never was like they pretend it was.

    March 4, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Reality Check wrote:

    ... Obama isn't the President of the United States as much as he is the President of the Far Left Democrat Party. He is not trying to raise all boats, just trying to destroy all the larger boats so your leaky dingy looks bigger.
    -------------------------
    I understand why you feel that way.

    "He's not one of us ...."
    "I'm not worried about the 47% who ...."

    You also make the all too human mistake of judging actions of another by what YOU personally, instead of the other person, would do in that same scenario. You apply your own scenario to their problem, completely ignoring their circumstances.

    March 4, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. Moose

    Just when you think it cant get any worse, its to close to call on who lies more

    March 4, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    How about placing "entitlement" reform for the rich and mega rich corporations on the agenda, too? When you want to put Medicare, SS, and Medicaid on the table, hurting those who have nothing more to give (I'd like to see these politicians live on $1000 a month for God's sake), how about the handouts to the rich paid for by us taxpayers being considered too? That's a real "entitlement," as opposed to the ones we pay for, no? And while we're at it, how about cutting the salaries and benefits of Congress, who are useless yet making three figures plus all the perks?

    March 4, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Annie, Atlanta wrote:

    How about placing "entitlement" reform for the rich and mega rich corporations on the agenda, too?
    ------------
    There is no need to put entitlement into quotes in your context. Income resulting from capital gains is typically referred to as entitlements by those on the receiving end of it.

    March 4, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Lisa P.

    Reality Check

    Obama HAS to campaign to get the House back in 2014 in order to bludgeon through the remainder of his far left agenda. Obama isn't the President of the United States as much as he is the President of the Far Left Democrat Party. He is not trying to raise all boats, just trying to destroy all the larger boats so your leaky dingy looks bigger.
    March 4, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And, speaking of campaigning 24/7/365... But has Reality Check ever said a single thing of value, one thing of any use to another human being? Nope, it's just rhetoric and hyperbole, hyperbole and rhetoric, the louder and more ridiculous the better. Leaky dingy? More like rapidly deflating inner tube. The perfect model of a Republican with nothing to say in perpetual campaign mode.

    March 4, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Humm,
    Really? You want to do something about the deficit and national debt. Well grab a shovel. There's a Shovel Ready Project just waiting for you. If that doesn't work out for you there's a guy down in Florida that needs people to help him milk his cows. Moo.

    March 4, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Donna wrote:

    Well, if there is one that we have learned over the last 4 years, it is if Obama claims he isn't doing something, he's doing it.
    -----------------
    Likewise, if Republicans claim Obama isn't doing something, not only is he doing it, but he's probalby doing it quite effectively.

    March 4, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |