Obama tells Dems keeping control of the Senate is top priority for 2014
February 5th, 2014
06:51 PM ET
10 months ago

Obama tells Dems keeping control of the Senate is top priority for 2014

(CNN) – President Barack Obama assured Democrats that maintaining control of the Senate is his top priority this year, according to sources present at a meeting between the President and Senate Democrats on Wednesday.

Continuing outreach to members of his party ahead of this year's midterm elections, Obama, along with former President Bill Clinton, attended the Senate Democrats' issues conference at the Washington National's Park.

With a number of vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election this year, sources in the room said the President vowed to do what he can to support Democratic candidates. Keeping the Senate under Democratic control is key to furthering the White House's second-term agenda.

The Democratic caucus currently holds a 55-45 majority in the 100-member chamber, but 21 Democratic-controlled seats are up this year as opposed to only 15 Republican seats. Making matters worse for Democrats is the consensus view that the overwhelming majority of vulnerable seats are currently held by Democrats.

The meeting served as a question-and-answer opportunity between Senate Democrats and the President. Some Democrats up for re-election asked Obama questions, but they focused on substantive topics, largely avoiding politics, according to the source.

"There was amazingly little politics, virtually no politics," said this source, who called the meeting "positive" and not "defensive" on anyone's part.

Another source in the room said topics ranged from the Affordable Care Act, to immigration, to unemployment benefits, to flood insurance, to trade, to veteran's issues, to housing and finance reform and even the practical effects of climate change, noting specifically the current drought in California.

Obama was introduced by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a vulnerable Democrat who is up for reelection and whose seat Republicans see as in play in November.

Sources in the room said Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, another vulnerable Democrat up for reelection in this year, thanked him for his help on her flood insurance bill, and asked that he helped continue to push it through.

A source said the President discussed the Affordable Care Act, which has been a source of discomfort for Democrats hoping to steer clear of some negative perceptions of the law. The source said the President's message was that more than 10 million people have insurance that wouldn't have before.

The Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday on the effects of Obama's health care law, was also discussed, according to one source.

Republicans have used the report as the latest attack line against the White House, latching on to the statistic that the number of full-time employees will drop by 2 million due to the ACA. The source said that Obama pushed back on this representation and promised continued counterarguments.

Obama also met with House Democrats on Tuesday at the White House and will attend their retreat next week.

In a lighter moment at the meeting, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich's young son, who was there because his school was closed Wednesday, came to the stage. The President asked the little boy if the meeting was interesting or boring. The senator's son said "kinda boring" – to which the President joked that Heinrich's son is already "speaking truth to power."

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Senate Democrats
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. freedom

    His top priority should be helping the American people. We are losing our jobs, our healthcare, our doctors, and all he cares about is winning the senate. Does that not prove his top priority is to control the people? He is totally abusing the office he holds, and not keeping the vow he took at his inauguration – twice.

    February 5, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  2. Jeff Tartt

    Once again,the President is so busy trying not to lose seats in the Senate,he has no time to run the country.When,I say when will the people wake up and realize the BIG mistake that was made electing this man?

    February 5, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  3. moldy jones

    Of all the ills in this country, or the world even, this is our president's top priority? And given that the unemployment rate is still unreasonable high, our president plans to do everything he can to ensure that his guys keep their jobs. How disappointing that our leaders are still so misguided.

    February 5, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  4. YoonYoungJo

    Maybe if O and the Dems can take control of congress by a slim margin, maybe some progress can be made on issues instead of the country being tidal locked.

    February 5, 2014 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  5. TeaParty4Life

    Bye bye demoncats...bye bye

    February 6, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  6. Randal

    Millions of people out of work. Millions more not even looking anymore. His top priority is keeping control of a senate which has done nothing for us. Does he have a clue, or even care.

    February 6, 2014 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    It is much more difficult to Gerrymander Senate voting. My off take has always been that senators get elected who meet todays national needs as well as local likes dislikes.
    Senatorial extremism Politically or ideologically based does not get votes.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    February 6, 2014 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  8. croaton999

    Lose the senate and the impeachment process begins.

    February 6, 2014 05:05 am at 5:05 am |
  9. Jamal

    Democrats don't stand a snowball's chance in Haiti of maintaining control of the Senate after yesterday's revelation of how many jobs will be lost because of Obamacare, and the disincentive to work and keep the government free benefits contained therein. Of course not a single word of it was reported here on CNN. But that's okay the truth will all come out before the midterm elections.

    February 6, 2014 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  10. louenglish

    Keep control is the operative word. Not keep the plan, the vision, the goals, the effort to resolve key issues. This is what scares me about this guy

    February 6, 2014 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  11. The don

    I thought the economy was top priority.

    February 6, 2014 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  12. TommytheT

    No Mr Obama, doing what is right for the American Legal citizens is what is most important.

    February 6, 2014 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  13. betterdays

    That's his top priority for 2014? Fantastic. Laser-focused.

    February 6, 2014 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    Be united all Democrats. Absolutely nothing wrong with ACA. It is Law, national dire need for CENTURIES. AMEN.

    February 6, 2014 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  15. Name

    I mean, why leave it up to the people, right Barack? Pass their bills. Help people... Vote democrat. Thanks for serving half the nation.

    February 6, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  16. Chewy

    Of course the obama wants to keep control of the Senate that is where he gets his dictatorial power, but if the Republicans win the Senate obama will have his destructive agendas cut. He has forced multiple failed policies on us plus a additional 7+ Trillion dollar national debt, with NOTHING to show for it.
    "If you like your health plan you can keep it."

    February 6, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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