At San Francisco fundraisers, Obama and allies strike different tones on Republicans

SAN FRANCISCO – President Obama still thinks he can find common ground with House Republicans.

Some other top Democrats disagree.

At two fundraisers for the Democratic Party in northern California Wednesday night, Obama told gatherings of wealthy donors that he believes he can work with the GOP on gun control, immigration reform and the budget despite the sometimes toxic political atmosphere in Washington.


“I do believe that there are well-meaning Republicans out there who care about their kids just as passionately as we do,” Obama said at the home of asset manager Tom Steyer and wife Kat Taylor. “My intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can, because we can’t have perpetual campaigns. And so I mean what I say.  I am looking to find areas of common ground with Republicans every single day.”

Obama acknowledged that he would like to see House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) become speaker in a Democratic-majority House, which would make his job easier. But before the 2014 election, the president said, he hoped his political opponents would work with him.

At the second fundraiser, at the mansion of billionaire philanthropists Gordon and Ann Getty, Obama said: “My hope is that we’re going to see more and more Republicans who say, ‘You know what, I didn’t come here just to fight the president or demonize Nancy Pelosi, I came here to get some stuff done.’ And they will be greeted with great enthusiasm by me, and I think by Nancy, if we could get some more stuff done right now.”

But after Obama – and the White House press pool shadowing him on the trip -- left the room, another leading Democrat struck a different tone. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, laid into House Republicans, according to a person familiar with Israel’s remarks who asked for anonymity to speak candidly about a private event.

According to the source, Israel described the GOP as full of “obstruction, chaos, inflexibility and intolerance,” and he said the candidates that he is recruiting to run against Republicans are the “antidote.”

“If we make the right decisions now, the world will still be okay for our kids and grandkids in 2030,” Israel said, according to the source. “If we make the wrong decisions now, the world won't be okay. So we've got to get this right. And the only way we're going to make the right decisions is if we have the right decision-makers."

If “2012 was a referendum on the president,” Israel added, “2014 will be a referendum on the House Republicans' extremism, obstruction and chaos."

Obama raised $3.25 million for the DCCC at the events.

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Aaron Blake | April 4, 2013