Obama trooped over to the Washington Nationals baseball stadium
for a private session with Senate Democrats in a meeting room in a
section of the stadium behind home plate. Former President Bill
Clinton also addressed the group.
An atmosphere of worry hangs over Democrats as they gird for
congressional elections in November in which they will attempt to
hang on to control of the Senate and make gains in the
Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Mid-term elections like this year's often bring bad results for the
party that holds the White House. Republicans are hoping to snatch
control of the Senate from Democrats, which would further stymie
Obama during his final years in office.
Optimism that 2014 could be a big year for Democrats, after a 16-day
government shutdown was blamed on Republicans, has been tempered by
the fallout over the botched rollout of Obama's signature healthcare
law in October.
Obama is attempting to keep Democrats united around an agenda
directed at helping the middle class and reducing income inequality,
issues that were at the heart of his State of the Union address last
A source in the room said Obama kicked off the meeting by saying he
recognizes that the stakes are high in the upcoming elections.
"He made clear that his agenda, which is focused on expanding
opportunity for all, is more likely to advance when the majority of
senators support it. So, the president vowed to do what he can to
support Democratic candidates in the mid-term elections," the source
Some of Obama's key policy objectives for the year are to push for
Congress to raise the minimum wage for low-income workers from $7.25
to $10.10, work for equal pay for women, take steps to strengthen
U.S. manufacturing and improve education and job training.
"The president looks forward to continue working closely with
Democrats in Congress to ensure that every American who works hard
and plays by the rules has the opportunity to get ahead," the White
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It was the third straight day that Obama talked election issues with
Democrats. On Monday he discussed the 2014 elections with Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid, and on Tuesday he talked with House
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama will be "doing
everything he can to assist Democrats" in 2014.
"He's the head of his party. Of course it's on his mind," Carney
said. "But it is far from the only thing on his mind."
Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California was at the
Tuesday meeting at the White House and told Reuters: "It was a good
"Of course, people got up and asked questions that are tough so they
can go home and say, 'I said to the president,'" Waxman said with a
laugh. "But he came right back at them."
Asked about the relationship between Democrats and Obama, given that
some Democrats in Republican-leaning districts may not want the
president to appear with them, Waxman said:
"I think the relationship is very good. Whether they want him in
their district or not is each candidate's decision.
"But they appreciate the fact that he is going to go out there and
raise the money for these campaigns. It is essential. He has the
bully pulpit. He will articulate the case to the American people."
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Jeff Mason; editing by
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