Obama tells Dems keeping control of the Senate is top priority for 2014
February 5th, 2014
06:51 PM ET
6 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. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Voters need to keep the dems in charge of the senate if they want to get ANYTHING done in the next several years. The GOP is to INCOMPETENT to be in charge of an outhouse!!!!

    February 5, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  2. Bill from GA

    I'm hoping Georgia can give the country a dem for Senator. All of the repugs running are total right wing nut jobs.

    It might help, Barry, if you could make a couple of trips here and get the Dem voters fired up!!
    Maybe the last 2 months or so before the election.

    February 5, 2014 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  3. Thomas

    It's not going to be easy keeping the Senate.

    Ted Cruz , Green eggs and hame .

    Blame the lower class

    February 5, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. CALIFORNIA

    Hey Obama, you're already a lame duck.

    February 5, 2014 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Who else could the voters elect but democrats , they sure aren't going to elect the GOP incompetent nincompoops!!!!!

    February 5, 2014 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. hurtsdonut

    No surprise here. Cobtrolling people is always a top priority for Democrats.

    February 5, 2014 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Right. Running the government is not the top priority.........staying in POWER, IS top priority!

    February 5, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. yolanda

    Ah, the smell of fear.

    February 5, 2014 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. Kristine

    Maybe he shouldn't have told all those lies then. The dems are going to pay for those lies.

    February 5, 2014 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. Harold Read

    Sorry about the Obamacare "train-wreck" and that it might cause you to be voted out this November, but:
    We must keep continuing our policy of dividing the country (republican vs democrat, poor vs rich, etc.)
    Obama doesn't need any stinking Senate or House because he has a pen and is not afraid to use it!

    February 5, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. Brian

    I thought his priority was jobs, or health care or breaking income disparity? You Dems believe anything this fool says. Amazing.

    February 5, 2014 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. FidyCents

    Really that was his message? I guess with all the bad news on Obamacare the House is all but lost.....again. Now folks this president has really earned the lame-duck status for these last 3 years with this type of leadership.

    February 5, 2014 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. mike

    Obama's dream and American People's nightmare.

    February 5, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  14. JC

    That's funny, according to his speech last week his top priority is the lower and middle class. I guess it just depends on the audience.

    February 5, 2014 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  15. termlimits

    Our leftist chair warmers should read those reports coming sochi. The only thing russia got right having saint petersburg looking westward to europe. Socialism is a philosophy of failure.

    February 5, 2014 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. Wes

    Ya if he wants to avoid impeachment ad conviction it would be important to keep his partisan cronies in the Senate.

    February 5, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  17. Too Scruffy

    I thought "jobs" was his #1 focus. Period. Of course, that has been his mantra for five years now. Period.

    February 5, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  18. Donna

    Democrats that voted for Obamacare and are from red states are goners. They might as well resign now. They and Obama have no one else to blame but themselves and their endless lies about Obamacare. Every day brings another disastrous disclosure. Today the head of the CBO testified that Obamacare incentivizes people to stop working in order to keep getting government subsidies for their healthcare. So now over 2 million people will leave the workforce and stop paying taxes in order for the rest of us to pay for more of their healthcare costs. And Obama and the Democrats complain about income inequality??!! The deceit, lies and incompetence of the Democrats and leftists is stunning,

    Kiss the Senate good bye in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016 Democrats. You've proven to the American people you are liars and incapable of leading this country.

    February 5, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  19. jerrylax

    why barry? You have destroyed the democratic party…moved it too far left, left into marxism.

    February 5, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  20. Tommy G

    How quaint.... The Liar of the Year Obama coaching his other Democrat liars on how to double down on their lies to save their jobs. Well, guess what? There is something called video tape. Yes, it actually records and plays back what is said, lies and all. Lies about Obamacare that a LOT of Democrats spewed along with the Liar of the Year Obama. You can run but you cannot hide Democrats.

    The American people reacted very badly to the Democrats in 2010 when Democrats and Obama jammed the Obamacare train wreck down our throats. THE RESULT WAS RECORD LOSSES IN THE 2010 ELECTION. Now that the reality of the Obamacare disaster is being felt personally by millions and millions of people that are losing their healthcare coverage thanks to Obamacare, the Democrats will experience a FAR BIGGER BACKLASH in 2014.

    Now remember Democrats, campaign with and embrace Obama, your leader. Hold him close and repeat his lies over and over just as you have been doing for years now. Don't turn all yellow bellied and run from Obama to save your jobs. It isn't going to work. Remember, there is something called video tape.

    February 5, 2014 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. just asking

    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.
    --

    does that include staying at least a 1,000 miles away from their campaign? Obama has given them obamacare to campaign on. what else could they possibly need?

    Keeping the Senate under Democratic control is key to furthering the White House's second-term agenda.
    -–

    he has a second term agenda??? i guess he does need all of those democrats to continue this record level of unemployment, record debt, the obamacare train wreck and miserable failure abroad as well as at home. without them the country and economy might actually start growing again. yes, by all means america, double down on the 8 years of democrat disaster. keep this train wreck a rolling right over the cliff.

    February 5, 2014 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  22. Jeff Frank (Ohio T Party) "Right Wing Insanity"

    He should tell them the truth. The Communists own the Democrats and about half the Republicans. Obamas shadow government.

    February 5, 2014 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  23. Mark

    Anybody find it interesting that in 2012 the media and dems blasted reps when they said their top priority was to make Obama a one term President but now when President Obama says his top priority for 2014 is to keep the dems in power in the Senate they don't seem to think that is bad at all??

    February 5, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  24. Ron L.

    If the Democrats are not afraid to stand up to the criticism on the ACA and push 'HARD" in showing that the they are:
    1) For raising the minimum wage.
    2) For comprehensive immigration reform.
    3) For the ACA which has had a flawed launch, it still has covered close to 10 million Americans that did not have
    coverage. Even if it is "tweaked" over the next ten years it was EXTREMELY important in getting universal health
    care started in America. OWN it don't run away from it!!!
    4) For restructuring Americas tax code in which the very rich pay a MINIMUM of 28% tax rate on their income by
    closing tax loop holes specifically design to favor the rich while average Americans pay at least 30%. Many of the
    very rich currently pay less to 20% because of these loop holes.
    These 4 key issues properly presented to the American people will keep the majority in the Senate and could possibly pick up sets in the Congress. Their number one goal has to be to present a POSITIVE future and number two has to be to get apathetic voters to VOTE.

    February 5, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. Eileen Reiss

    I am so grateful for Obamacare. Now I can retire at age 62 , work part time , let a young worker have my wonderful full time job and have health insurance until I am eligible for Medicare. w Win – Win – Win.

    February 5, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
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