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Democratic leaders hope President Barack Obama gives a stern lecture to Congress on its ineffectiveness when he delivers his State of the Union address this week.
While a combative speech could include some unpleasant moments for all Members, Democrats say they are happy to sit through them as long as Obama touts some of their party’s accomplishments and goes after Republicans.
“We rise and fall with him, so if he bashes Congress, we need to be fine with that,” a House Democratic leadership aide said.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said he anticipates the president will again offer to work with Republicans on legislation — something Democrats hope will remind voters of the times last year when Republican leaders walked away from the negotiating table during talks on the debt and the federal budget.
“I would expect that the president would continue to invite Republicans to work with him and House Democrats to rebuild the middle class, create jobs and strengthen the recovery,” Israel said last week.
He added: “This will be the fourth time, I believe, that the president has come to the Congress and invited Republicans to work with him. I hope on the fourth time they’ll decide to actually do that.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also recently embraced the Obama campaign’s efforts to vilify Congress and run against the legislature in his re-election campaign. Democratic aides note that while the president’s message appears to include their own bosses, as long as it works for Obama, it will work for them.
Still, some Democrats insist that Obama needs to make the distinction between their party and the GOP if he decides to go negative against Congress. Israel, leading the effort by House Democrats to win back the majority, readily conceded that an anti-Congress message presents some challenges.
“Would I like him to use the word ‘Republican’ more in his verbiage? Yes,” Israel said.
But it’s a small price to pay, he continued.
“I think voters are smart enough to know who should be held accountable for the gridlock, and it’s the Republicans who manage the House of Representatives,” he said.
Senate sources indicated the president’s speech Tuesday could resemble, in content and tenor, an address he delivered last month in Kansas. That speech was infused with a populist tone and was noted by many as one of Obama’s first real campaign pitches of 2012.
It’s that campaign Obama, the fiery and lofty born-again candidate, whom Democrats are eager to hear.