Carney: 2014 is ‘not a focus’ for Obama

The White House is pushing back on the Post's story from this weekend about President Obama's early emphasis on winning in the 2014 elections.

In his daily briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama isn't, in fact, focused on 2014 yet.

"I think it goes without saying that a president wants those in his party to do well, but it is not a focus of his, particularly at this point," Carney said. "He is focused on trying to get a bipartisan consensus around some very important policy objectives.

Carney went on to name the economy, immigration reform, gun control and climate change as areas in which Obama hopes to have support from both parties. So far, though, immigration reform seems to be the only area of the four in which both sides are ready to deal.

"It is just not accurate that the president doesn't want these accomplishments," Carney said. "He is expending great political capital and energy on the proposition that he wants immigration reform done in a bipartisan way and done early."

The Post's Scott Wilson and Philip Rucker reported over the weekend that Obama is already gunning for big victories in 2014, even though midterms in the second term of a presidency have generally been very hard on the incumbent president. Democrats would need to gain 17 seats to re-take the House and would need to pick up five seats for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is quoted in the story as saying that Obama knows it's fruitless to try and legislate with the GOP in control of the House.

“The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives,” Israel said. “To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now.”

Of course, even if the White House were focusing on 2014 this early in the cycle, admitting to such a thing would risk poisoning the well if it does want to accomplish some legislative goals in this Congress.

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