The Washington Post

Obama: I’m ‘not a particularly ideological person’

MEDINA, Wash. – Opening a three-day campaign swing to raise money for fellow Democrats, President Obama charged here Sunday night that House Republicans are the biggest impediment to the nation’s progress.

“The biggest barrier and impediment we have right now is the Congress, and in particular the House of Representatives, that is not focused on getting the job done for the American people and is a lot more focused on trying to position themselves for the next election,” Obama told about 60 wealthy supporters at a fundraising dinner outside of Seattle.

Obama’s comments came during an event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee inside the sprawling contemporary Medina home of former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley. Tickets cost up to $16,200 per person or $32,400 per couple, with money going toward helping Democrats reclaim the House majority in 2014.

Obama described himself “not a particularly ideological person,” saying he is passionate about his values but is practical about how to achieve them. He attacked House Republicans for being what he considered overly partisan.

“More than anything, what we’re looking for is not the defeat of another party,” Obama said. “What we’re looking for is the advancement of ideas. But to do that, we’re going to need Nancy Pelosi as speaker, because there’s a lot of work to be done right now.”

Obama hailed Pelosi, who was in attendance at Sunday night’s fundraising dinner, as “our once-speaker and soon-to-be-speaker-again.”

The president ticked through what he called “enormous challenges” the country has faced this year alone — from the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., to the National Security Agency disclosures to the government shutdown and potential debt default to issues in the Middle East. He did not include the rocky rollout of his signature health care law.

“It’s understandable, I think, that sometimes people feel disturbed or concerned about whether or not we can continue to make progress,” Obama said. But, he added, “I’m incredibly optimistic about our future.”

Earlier Sunday, Obama addressed a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, which remains mired in debt from the 2012 campaign cycle. The DNC event was closed to the press. Approximately 30 supporters attended, contributing up to $32,400 each. The fundraiser was held at the Seattle home of Tom Campion, founder of Zumiez, a skateboard and snowboard apparel company, and his wife, Sonya.

Obama remained overnight in Seattle on Sunday and will fly Monday morning to San Francisco, where he will speak at two fundraisers – a large event at the SFJazz Center and a small roundtable at the home of Marc Benioff, founder of, a cloud computing company.

Obama also will deliver remarks on immigration policy at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco, where he will renew his call on Congress to pass an immigration reform bill. Aides said Obama plans to highlight what he sees as the economic benefits of immigration reform, including for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in California and elsewhere.

Later Monday and on Tuesday, Obama will be in the Los Angeles area, where he will raise money at the homes of former basketball star Magic Johnson and media executive Haim Saban. Obama also will hold a public event at DreamWorks studios, where aides said he will talk about the economy and highlight growth in the entertainment industry. Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chief executive of DreamWorks, has been one of Obama’s biggest campaign donors and fundraisers.

Originally posted at 12:58 a.m. This post has been updated.

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.



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