Obama preaches unity to Democrats

March 02, 2014 - 6:18:30 am
WASHINGTON: A fiery US President Barack Obama on Friday attempted to rally Democratic activists to overcome stiff headwinds and work hard for the party’s congressional candidates this year in an election-year speech that was sharply critical of Republicans.

The President addressed the winter meeting of the Democratic

National Committee in Washington with the aim of maintaining a spirit of unity among party activists. Democrats are trying to face down emboldened Republicans who see a chance of capturing the Senate and building on their majority in the House of Representatives.

Invoking Democratic heroes such as John Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Obama told party faithful that Democrats can win “if we stay focused on what we believe in”.

All 435 members of the House and a third of the 100-member Senate are up for grabs in November elections.

Obama faces a difficult challenge. The party that controls the White House in these so-called “midterm” elections typically loses seats in Congress. Obama urged Democrats to resist any notion that they might lose, noting their superior numbers in general.

“When Democrats have everybody in the field we cannot lose. That’s just a fact. That’s just the raw numbers. When Democrats vote, we win,” he said.  Republican voter models, he said, “are constructed based on the idea that Americans will sit out this election because they look at the past, and in the past a lot of Democrats don’t vote in the midterms.”

Part of Democrats’ struggles this year are of Obama’s own making. The rollout of his healthcare law last October has proven difficult and is still controversial.

Obama ridiculed Republicans for continuing to try to repeal the law and vowed to fight to make sure more Americans sign up for coverage under the law. “We will not apologise for it, it’s the right thing to do,” he said. Obama made the case that there are still items on his agenda that he would like to see approved in an election year.

Immigration reform stands out as one top item the president would like despite tough odds. But he also used his drive early this year to promote policies to create jobs for the middle class as an election-year appeal for voters to support Democrats.

He argued that Democrats stand for middle-class values versus Republicans who stand for wealthier people. Reuters