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Obama’s Jobs Message Gains Currency With Liberals

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Sherrod Brown said he is encouraged by the president taking his jobs plan on the road.

But the White House didn't do itself any favors when the president undermined his own message that he wanted Congress to pass his whole package immediately. He told Latino reporters Monday that he will sign pieces of his package if they are sent to his desk. That had some Democrats seeing a repeat of earlier cave-ins to the GOP and fearing that Obama will simply acquiesce to a tax-cuts-only package. The White House quickly tried to downplay the comments.

"We're not in a negotiation to break up the package," Obama's top re-election strategist, David Axelrod, said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "It's not an a la carte menu."

House Democrats, who have felt most burned by the president's past strategic missteps, continue to have mixed feelings about Obama and his jobs rollout, calling it a promising move but short of the sweeping housing market proposals for which they were hoping. And while they applaud Obama for taking his plan on the road, House Democrats are coming out with their own economic proposals to apply pressure on the White House to hold its ground during negotiations with Congressional Republicans.

"We think it's a wonderful first step, we'd like to strengthen it and make it bigger," Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said Tuesday at a press conference for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which introduced its own plan.

Rep. Jim Moran said Obama, knowing he'd have a tough time getting anything through the GOP-controlled House, should have gone with an even bigger plan that catered to the base rather than attempting a bipartisan deal.

"I don't think that he would get anything through the majority in the House, if it was $4 billion instead of $447 billion, because they're just not going to do anything to make him look good," the Virginia Democrat said. "So if that's the case, why not go for what you think is the best plan? And if that's the case, it's not as big and as bold as it needs to be and ought to be."

Moran said the White House has not coordinated enough with House Democrats this year, but a Democratic leadership aide maintained that the administration has been more helpful on the messaging front as of late.

Grijalva said that coordination will be put to the test "when the Republicans offer what they're going to accept."

"I hope we don't see more of what we've seen in the past," Grijalva said, alluding to the debt limit deal that many Democrats are still embittered over. "If we're going to be asked to swallow bitter pills and there's no sweetener in there, then I think it's going to be difficult for us."

While Obama's jobs plan has provided a fresh boost for Democratic messaging, the key unifier for the Caucus is still opposition to the GOP, one House Democratic aide said.

"We will take this jobs plan over the GOP's non-existent job plan any day of the week," the aide said. "House Dems have been beating the drum on jobs for a while and we are very happy the president has joined the fight."

Republicans dismissed the jobs package Tuesday as politicking instead of a serious plan to get something done.

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