Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Obama Is on Charm Offensive with Democrats

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Obama Is on Charm Offensive with Democrats

Article excerpt

President Obama has spent the past two days wooing Democrats from both the House and Senate as he forges ahead on his ambitious second- term agenda, starting with gun control, immigration reform, and economic recovery.

The presidents remarks Thursday to House Democrats at an off- site retreat tracked many of the themes he struck during his reelection campaign and in last months inaugural address, and plans to reinforce, he said, in his State of the Union address next Tuesday.

What you'll hear from me next week I'm going to be talking about making sure that we're focused on job creation here in the United States of America, Mr. Obama told the House Democrats, gathered in Leesburg, Va.

But more important than what he said was the fact that he was there at all. Obamas visit Thursday followed a similar two-hour meeting the day before with Senate Democrats in Annapolis, Md. At both events, in addition to making remarks, he also took questions and worked the room, away from the media.

By making these visits, Obama was reinforcing a truism about the presidency: Rallying your own troops be can just as important as reaching out to the other side, particularly when at least one chamber is in the other partys hands. And you cant always count on members of your own party to be there for you.

During his first term, Obama faced criticism for being aloof and not reaching out to either side of the aisle, at times hurting his own cause.

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In his first two years in office, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, Obama won significant legislative victories including the biggest economic stimulus package in history, health- care reform, and financial reform. But the conservative backlash was fierce, and in the 2010 midterms, the Republicans swept into power in the House. Gridlock has stymied action since, exacerbated by Obamas lack of close relationships on Capitol Hill, analysts say. …

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