SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama praised Democratic lawmakers for having his back through some politically tough votes and encouraged supporters to help elect more of them in November.
“A Democratic Congress is good for America,” he said Friday.
Obama also criticized Senate Republicans for refusing to consider his Supreme Court nominee and said GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz aren’t “outliers” but are simply parroting what some congressional Republicans have said for years.
Obama didn’t mention that votes taken by House Democrats, led by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, to muscle his economic recovery plan and health care law through Congress early in his first term ended up souring the public and costing Democrats the House majority.
“I’ve done a lot of tough stuff since I’ve been president,” Obama told about 100 supporters who rose to their feet and chanted his “Yes We Can” campaign slogan as he entered a high-ceilinged room at the Pacific Heights home of businessman and philanthropist Gordon Getty.
“But I couldn’t do it unless I had outstanding legislators who had my back, even when it wasn’t politically convenient,” he said, praising Pelosi for possessing a combination of “idealism and just tough as nails conviction and savvy” that he said the country has benefited from during his presidency. “I could not have had a better partner than Nancy Pelosi.” The California Democrat holds the fundraiser annually at the Getty home. Couples paid $33,400.
Turning to the presidential race, Obama said Republicans shouldn’t feel embarrassed by the comments from Trump and Cruz, the Texas senator. He said the GOP rivals are saying what some Republican members of Congress have said about immigration and other issues for years.
“In fact, that’s where Trump got it,” Obama said. “He said, ‘You know what, I can deliver this message with more flair.'”
Obama said he wants a Republican Party that is “rational and well-functioning, but that’s not what we have right now. And that’s why this election is so important.”
He noted that he will no longer be president in 10 months. “But in 10 months I will, contrary to Mr. Trump’s opinion, still be a citizen of the United States,” Obama said, recalling Trump’s past attempts to cast doubt on Obama’s citizenship because the president’s father was Kenyan.
Obama also praised House Democrats at a fundraiser late Thursday in Los Angeles.
Democrats have a good chance to add at least a handful of House seats in November’s election. The number could grow if the Republican presidential nominee is Trump, who has alienated large numbers of women, Hispanics and others with his biting rhetoric and issue positions.
But to regain control of the 435-seat chamber, Democrats would need to pick up 30 seats, which would be an uphill climb.
Obama’s remarks late Thursday opened a two-day fundraising swing through Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Friday brought three more events, including a roundtable for Senate Democratic candidates at the Brentwood home of “Spiderman” actor Tobey Maguire that was closed to news media coverage. Tickets cost $33,400, officials said.
Obama also attended a closed Democratic Party event Friday at the San Francisco home of activists Steve Phillips and Susan Sandler.
DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press
Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.