accepts 'shellacking'; will work with Republicans
Thursday November 04, 2010 10:11:25 AM,
US President Barack Obama took responsibility for the voter
discontent that led to the "shellacking" of Democrats in
congressional elections, while pledging Wednesday to work with the
newly empowered Republicans.
"I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a
shellacking like I did (Tuesday) night. You know, I'm sure there
are easier ways to learn these lessons," Obama said in a
post-election press conference at the White House.
The Democrats suffered huge losses as Republicans, galvanized by a
grass roots ultra-conservative Tea Party movement, surged to take
control of the House of Representatives while placing a huge dent
in the Democratic majority in the upper Senate.
Republicans gained at least 50 seats in the House with some races
still undetermined, while also gaining in the Senate and trimming
Democratic control to the narrowest of margins. Republicans also
fared well in state gubernatorial races.
The mid-term congressional elections were widely seen as a
referendum on Obama's policies and a result of voter anger over
the struggling economy and high unemployment. Obama has seen his
job-approval rating fall dramatically since he took office two
"People are frustrated. They're deeply frustrated with the pace of
our economic recovery and the opportunities that they hope for
their children and their grandchildren," Obama said.
Severely weakened, Obama acknowledged he will need to work with
Republicans to repair the economy and address other issues,
including health care, which has been the cornerstone of his
Obama said he spoke with the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch
McConnell, and John Boehner, who is poised to become House speaker
when the new Congress convenes in January.
"I've been willing to compromise in the past, and I'm going to be
willing to compromise going forward, on a whole range of issues,"
Obama said. Pressed by reporters to explain his feelings on the
outcome of the voting, Obama said plainly: "It feels bad."
The Republican leaders made it clear that they expect Obama and
the Democrats to show a greater willingness to with with them.
McConnell warned that a failure to do so could hurt Democrats more
in 2012 elections.
"Our friends on the other side can change now or further change is
going to happen in 2012," McConnell said at a press conference
"What we need to do is listen to the American people," Boehner
said. "They sent a very loud message last night."
Boehner described his conversation with Obama as "very pleasant"
and also pledged to work with Obama to find common ground. But the
House speaker-in-waiting stood by his promise to repeal Obama's
massive health care reforms.
"The health care bill that was enacted by the current Congress
will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the
world and bankrupt our country," Boehner said.
But Obama suggested he was unwilling to reopen discussions on key
pieces of legislation passed in his first two years.
He said the economy was the "number one concern" of voters and he
was willing to meet with Republican leaders and work with both
parties on priorities including energy and education reform.
He predicted that voters were not interested in seeing Congress "relitigate
"What the American people don't want from us ... is to spend the
next two years fighting the legislative battles of the last two
years," Obama said.
Obama also acknowledged that with Republicans controlling the
House, he is unlikely to push through a cap and trade system that
would put a price on carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global
Obama said he would push for more piecemeal incentives for
developing alternative energies that could help the US reduce its
"Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat," Obama said.
"It was a means, not an end."
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats also agreed on the need to work in a
bipartisan fashion, but stressed Republicans must be willing to do
"Republicans must take their responsibility to solve the problems
of ordinary Americans," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
who held onto his seat in an election that pitted him against a
conservative Tea Party-backed Republican.
"Simply saying no as we've had this past Congress ... won't bring
jobs back, it won't strengthen the economy and it won't help
families who are trying to make ends meet."
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