A candid President Obama vowed Thursday evening that he would continue to reach out to republicans and take their ideas into consideration, telling a group of supporters in Miami that "there are more important things than political party."
The president urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pass financial regulatory reform and warned them not to bow to pressure from firms and lobbyists trying to kill the legislation. "We should all agree that we've got to pass common-sense Wall Street reform," he told the crowd of 1,000 at Thursday's DNC fundraiser, where tickets ranged from $250 to $1,250 a pop.
He credited his signature economic recovery package with putting more than two million Americans back to work, and cutting taxes for families, small businesses, and students.
Obama singled out the anti-tax tea party movement that fanned out across the country to hold demonstrations and rallies marking Tax Day. "I've been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes," the president said. "You would think they'd be saying thank you."
Obama garnered the biggest applause of the night when he lauded the passage of his sweeping health care reform legislation, which he praised for cutting the deficit and putting reforms in place that would offer coverage to more Americans.
"For all the sound and fury and all the scare tactics... the law doesn't hand more control to the goverment," the president said, "it gives it back to you, the American people." Obama borrowed a line from Vice President Biden, telling the audience, "this is a big deal" but strategically omitting the expletive Biden was infamously heard using on an open microphone just weeks ago. "Joe's got a way with words, and he was right, it's a big deal."
The president challenged republicans and those who seek to repeal health care legislation, saying, "go for it." "If they want to let kids be barred from getting insurance because of preexisting conditions we can have that discussion. If they want to take back tax cuts from small businesses who want to do the right thing by their employees I'm happy to have that argument," Obama said.
He riled up the audience when he mentioned the recent election of Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch who succeeded outgoing Democrat Robert Wexler. "Let's not get too excited," Obama said, "It's a democratic district. But to listen to the republicans - they were warning over and over again, this would be a referendum on health care. 'This is a referendum on the recovery act. This is a referendum on Obama!' Well maybe it was!"
The president's confidence was met with wild applause and "Obama" chants reminiscent of the campaign.
He told the crowd that he believes elections will work themselves out if the party stays true to its principles, and that "you can't hyperventialte about the day to day politics and the gamesmanship and the polls."
"You're like a genius for about a month, then you're an idiot for about six months. Then you're smart again... then you're an idiot again," Obama said. He echoed a phrase he has used often since Congress passed health care legislation - that doing what is "right" for the American people is more important than doing what is popular.