After midterm wins, GOP vows to block Obama's agenda

The Post's Chris Cillizza breaks down the 2010 midterm election results and what it means for the Democrats and the Republicans moving forward.
By Dan Balz and William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 3:06 PM

Republican leaders, buoyed by recapturing the House and gaining seats in the Senate in Tuesday's midterm elections, vowed Wednesday to pursue their plans to downsize the federal government and said voters had vindicated their efforts to block President Obama's agenda.

"We're determined to stop the agenda Americans have rejected and to turn the ship around," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference with the new presumptive House speaker, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. "We'll work with the administration when they agree with the people and confront them when they don't."

He said the elections showed that voters "appreciated us saying no to the things that the American people indicated they were not in favor of."

A somber Obama later acknowledged that he took a "shellacking" Tuesday night. He told a news conference that he was "very eager to sit down with members of both parties and figure out how we can move forward together." But he said it would not be easy and that "I won't pretend that we'll be able to bridge every difference or solve every disagreement."

Obama reflected that presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had experienced similar midterm defeats.

"You know, this is something that I think every president needs to go through, because . . . the responsibilities of this office are so enormous and so many people are depending on what we do, and in the rush of activity sometimes we lose track of . . . the ways that we connected with folks that got us here in the first place," Obama said. "Now, I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night. You know, I'm sure there're easier ways to learn these lessons."

He conceded that his relationship with the American people "has gotten rockier and tougher" over the last two years during difficult times following an "incredible high" at the time of his election.

In the earlier Republican news conference, Boehner said he saw no problem for Republicans in "incorporating members of the tea party with our party in the quest that's really the same" following the midterms, which amounted to a major rebuff of Obama and the Democrats by an electorate worried about the economy and the size of government.

"It's pretty clear that the American people want a smaller, less costly and more accountable government here in Washington, D.C.," Boehner said.

Barbour, representing an enlarged group of Republican governors across the country, said: "The voters yesterday voted against excessive spending, piling up deficits, trillions of dollars in new debt being loaded on our children and grandchildren, a huge tax increase right around the corner in January, and a government-run health care system."

Speaking just four years after their party surrendered power in Congress, the Republican leaders urged Democrats to heed what they said was the message of midterm voters and move toward the GOP's positions. "We hope that they will pivot in a different direction," McConnell said.

He called the midterms "clearly a referendum on the administration and the Democratic majority here in the Congress." He charged that Obama's health-care legislation was "a metaphor for the government excess that we witnessed over the last two years." And he warned that Democrats could "change now and work with us" or that "further change, obviously, can happen in 2012."

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