The Fix: Obama mocks GOP message at fundraiser

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 14, 2010; 8:52 AM

1. At a fundraising dinner in New York City last night that raised more $1.3 million for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, President Barack Obama cast the last 18 months as tough but necessary -- highlighting a series of accomplishments that he believes his party can take to the voters this fall.

"The reason the economy is getting better is because [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and every Democrat here embraced the responsibility to lead," said Obama before detailing legislation on credit card reform, increased funding for veterans, remaking the student loan system and an overhaul of the health care system.

"This has been one of the most productive legislative sessions in history -- in the midst of crisis," said Obama. He did acknowledge, however, that "these guys have taken more tough votes in the last 16 months than Congress had taken in the previous 16 years."

To Republicans, Obama had a mocking message. "You would have thought at a time of historic crisis that Republican leaders would have been more willing to help us find a way out of this mess -- particularly since they created the mess," he said at one point, adding, jokingly: "Don't tell me how to mop. Pick up a mop!"

Obama's rhetoric gets at the fundamental strategic divide between the two parties this fall. Democrats want this election to be a choice between what they have done and what Republicans would do. Republicans see 2010 as a referendum on Democrats with their role solely to play the loyal opposition.

In 172 days, we'll find out who is right.

2. A Suffolk University poll released yesterday showed Rep. Joe Sestak opening up a nine-point lead over Sen. Arlen Specter with just four days remaining in their Democratic primary fight.

Sestak led Specter 49 percent to 40 percent, a lead far larger than in other surveys that show Sestak ahead by just a few points or in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent.

In the Suffolk poll, Specter held a 52 percent to 37 percent lead over Sestak among minority voters, a group that will be key for him and which he is heavily targeting with radio and television ads featuring President Barack Obama. Despite Specter's endorsements by labor groups, however, Sestak leads him among union households by 60 percent to 36 percent.

Nearly half of poll respondents (46 percent) say they made up their minds within the last month, an indication that Sestak's TV ads hammering Specter have paid dividends.

Seeking to blunt Sestak's momentum, Specter's camp fought back yesterday by releasing a radio ad featuring Vice President Joe Biden, who praised Specter as "a guy with more steel in his backbone than most people have in their whole body."

After spending the past two days in Washington, Specter will return to Pennsylvania today with events scheduled in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley. On Saturday, he'll be in the southeast part of the state, according to his campaign.

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