Has Obama Given Up on Republicans?

Posted April 4, 2013 at 11:41am

Fewer than 75 days into his second term, President Barack Obama already seems resigned to the reality that big chunks of his second-term agenda will die without Nancy Pelosi holding the speaker’s gavel.

In remarks at two fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Wednesday night, Obama said he still hopes to achieve bipartisan action on an immigration overhaul, guns and the budget.

“We would like to see some governing done in Washington before the next election starts,” he said to laughter at one of the fundraisers, which combined raised $3.25 million.

But he balanced that with an acknowledgement that much of his agenda isn’t going anywhere as long as Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, runs the House.

“If we’re going to move forward on some of the other things I talked about in the State of the Union … then I’m going to need some more help in Congress,” he said, referring explicitly to climate change, his universal early childhood initiative and $2 trillion in infrastructure spending.

“I would love nothing better than an effective, loyal opposition that is willing to meet us halfway and move the country forward — because that’s what the American people are looking for,” Obama said about the GOP. But he said too many people in the Republican Party feel constrained from working with him because of their own politics.

Obama has come under fire from the GOP for jetting to California for fundraisers in the midst of a charm offensive with Republicans on Capitol Hill. Indeed, Obama is scheduled to have dinner next week with 12 more GOP senators. Last month, he hosted a dozen Senate Republicans at a D.C. restaurant and traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with both the House and Senate GOP caucuses.

But in California, the president referred to his dual roles as president and leader of the Democratic Party. “My job is not simply to occupy the Oval Office. My job is to make sure we move the country forward, and I think we can best do that if Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House once again,” he said.

Obama lavished praise on the House minority leader.

“She is thoughtful, she’s visionary, she’s as tough as nails. She is practical. She never lets ideology cloud her judgment,” Obama said.