Despite 'shortage of common sense' in D.C., Obama expresses optimism
POSTED: Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 3:31pm
UPDATED: Sunday, May 19, 2013 - 5:55pm
(CNN) — Obama kicked off his fundraising tour for Senate Democrats on Sunday with a speaking gig in Atlanta, his first of six events for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year.
During his brief remarks, the president reported on the divisive political climate in the nation's capital, saying "partisan thinking" has dominated Washington and added the country needs to elect more people "who are not ideological."
Obama largely stayed on message about his goals for the economy, education, health care costs and energy. He said reform can take place only if policy can trump politics.
"We've got good, common-sense solutions that we can implement right now," he said during a 15-minute speech at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation office. But, he added, the bad news is "there's a shortage of common sense in Washington."
About 100 people were slated to attend, with ticket prices amounting to $10,000 per couple for attendees and $32,400 per couple for hosts. The president stopped by shortly after delivering the commencement address at the historically black, all-male Morehouse College.
He linked his fundraiser remarks to the graduates he just spoke to, saying "sometimes you feel as if Washington is impeding rather than advancing the possibilities that these young people represent."
Despite the recent onslaught of controversies plaguing his administration, the president expressed some optimism that Washington can tackle legislative action, especially on immigration.
"Doesn't mean that there aren't going to be politics involved; it doesn't mean that there are not going to be some rough and tumble," he said, though later adding there is one "upshot."
"Despite sometimes the doom and gloom of what you hear emanating out of Washington, you should be optimistic about this country," he said. "I sure am."
One of his sources for optimism is the chance to make Democratic gains in Congress next year. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia announced earlier this year he would not be seeking re-election. With Chambliss out of the picture for 2014, DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet told the audience that the open seat "presents us with the greatest opportunity for a pickup."
"If we get a critical mass in the Senate and we can potentially get a critical mass of folks like that in the House, means that the sky is the limit," Obama added. "Nothing can stop us."
Democrats will be defending 21 of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs in November 2014. As of now, six Democrats have announced plans not to seek re-election, including three from right-leaning states. On the Republican side, two senators have said they plan to retire after they finish their term.
The Republican primary in Georgia is already starting to look a bit crowded, with Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston all having announced their Senate bids.
Democrats have yet to see a candidate declare a bid for the seat, though some potential contenders include Michelle Nunn (daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn), Rep. Sanford Bishop and former Sen. Max Cleland.
Reps. John Barrow and Jim Marshall declined to run for the seat, as did Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month showed that, by a narrow margin, American voters say they are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican for 2014 congressional candidates, 41% to 37%. The 4-percentage point difference falls within the poll's sampling error.
Democratic Party officials told CNN in February the president would hold 14 fundraising events this year for congressional Democrats, 10 of which would take place outside Washington.