NEW YORK – President Obama struck back at Republican critics during a fundraising stop here Monday afternoon, telling a crowd of Democratic donors that his second-term agenda has been blocked by “hyper-partisanship” in Washington.
“My thinking was when we beat them in 2012 that might break the fever, and it’s not quite broken yet,” Obama said of Republicans. “But I am persistent. And I am staying at it. And I genuinely believe there are Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them. And as a consequence, we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government.”
Obama made the remarks at the townhouse of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. A few hours earlier, during a press conference in Washington with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the president had called Republicans' focus on the State Department's response to the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, a “sideshow.”
The event at Weinstein's home was the first stop in a series of three New York fundraisers the president is attending to support the Democratic Party and congressional Democrats. Among those in the crowd, who paid up to $20,000 per person, were singer Justin Timberlake, actress Jessica Biel and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.
The president said that as he began his second term, he was starting to consider his legacy. “You start thinking about history and start thinking in longer sweeps of time. And you start saying to yourself, the 3 ½ years you’ve got is not a lot,” he said.
He told the crowd he was moved by the spirit among people he met in Boston and West, Tex., during recent visits after the marathon bombing and fertilizer plant explosion, respectively. “More than anything, what I will be striving for over the next 3 ½ years is to see if that spirit we saw in Boston and West, Texas, if we can institutionalize that, if we can create a framework where everybody’s working together and moving this country forward,” he said.
Although his 2008 campaign focused on “hope and change,” Obama acknowledged he had failed to break the strong partisanship in Washington, but he said that his intentions “over the next 3 ½ years are to govern” and not to focus on politics.
“If there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation then I want to make sure there are consequences to that,” he said.