White House aides continue to insist that President Obama isn’t really campaigning yet. Press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Obama’s focus on the campaign “is relatively low now” because he is busy governing.
“He is not engaging particularly aggressively in his reelection campaign,” Carney said. “It’s only January. There is not a Republican nominee.”
Yet this week, the president is attending at least five fundraisers, including two Monday night in Washington and three events, including a public concert, in Chicago on Wednesday. First lady Michelle Obama, meanwhile, is appearing at four events in the swing state of Virginia this week, including two Democratic National Committee events.
On Monday night, Obama appeared at the Jefferson Hotel for an exclusive fundraiser with a group of 25 guests who had paid $45,000 apiece, with the money split between the DNC and Obama’s re-election campaign. Then the president attended an event for 700 people at the Capitol Hilton, which featured a performance by singer and pianist Sara Bareilles.
During the latter event, Obama made a lengthy speech that sounded very much like a draft of his campaign re-election message, hitting on his themes of fighting for the middle class and tying his GOP presidential opponents to Republican leaders in an unpopular Congress.
“Republicans in Congress and the candidates who are running for president,” Obama told the crowd in a refrain he would use twice more, “they’ve got a very specific idea of where they want to take this country.”
Then the president listed what he claimed were the goals of Republicans: gut education, technology and infrastructure investments; turn Medicare into a private voucher system; roll back the minimum wage, collective bargaining rights and environmental regulations.
“Republicans in Congress and these candidates, they think that the best way for America to compete for new jobs and businesses is to follow other countries in a race to the bottom,” Obama declared.
Obama also listed his accomplishments in office, citing his bailout of the auto industry, health care reform, the ending of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
At the same time, the president acknowledged that bringing the kind of sweeping change to Washington that he promised four years ago is a work in progress.
“I know this has been a tough three years. I know that the change we fought for in 2008, we have had to grind it out to make it happen,” Obama said. “And after all that’s been going on in Washington, all the nonsense that takes place here sometimes, it’s tempting to believe, well, maybe it’s not possible to do everything we wanted. But I want to remind everybody what I said in the last campaign -- real change, big change is hard. It’s always been hard. It takes more than a single term. It may take more than a single president.”