NEW YORK (AP) — Rousing Democrats for their fight to keep the Senate, President Barack Obama mounted a searing critique of the Republican Party on Wednesday, accusing his political foes of thwarting progress on everything from wages to scientific research and climate change.
In what's become an election-year routine for the president, Obama took the mic at an opulent Manhattan apartment and urged Democrats not to let their party's tendency to neglect midterm elections hand Republicans a chance to capture the Senate. Such a turn of events would essentially halt his agenda for his final two years in office.
"We have a party on the other side that has been captured by an ideology that says 'no' to everything," Obama said, "because they claim to a rigid theory that the only way to grow the economy is for the government to be dismantled."
In the past, such a bleak description of the Grand Old Party might have been an exaggeration, Obama said, but not anymore. Extending his critique to the Republican approach to winning elections, he charged that the GOP's "main election strategy is preventing people from voting" — a nod to voter ID laws and other restrictions that Democrats have opposed.
Obama's pep talk also included a healthy dose of tough love. He said his own party suffers from a "congenital disease" in which its supporters get revved up during presidential years, then fail to show up at the polls for midterm elections, hamstringing the party's prospects in Congress.
"We have to break that cycle," Obama told Democratic donors who packed the Upper East Side apartment belonging to Blair Effron. The investment banker and his wife hosted Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a few dozen donors who paid $32,400 for the chance to see the president in person.
The sharp political talk from the president at a pair of Democratic fundraisers came at the halfway point of a two-day jaunt to New York that is bookended by official events — standard fare for Obama, who has visited New York a half-dozen times since winning re-election and headlined fundraisers for Democratic during almost every trip.
Obama started his day with a visit to Tarrytown, just north of New York City, where the rundown Tappan Zee Bridge served as the backdrop for a presidential pitch to Congress to spend more money on the nation's crumbling roads, hole-ridden bridges and outdated ports — or prepare to lose business and jobs to other countries.
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