President Barack Obama fired up the bully pulpit Friday, waging an all-hands-on-deck media campaign on Congressional Republicans to urge them to compromise on a debt deal.
Following up his Monday telephonic call to arms that overwhelmed the House switchboards and caused several Congressional websites to crash, Obama once again urged Americans to contact their Members of Congress.
“On Monday night I asked the American people to make their voice heard in this debate, and the response was overwhelming,” Obama said at an 11 a.m. press conference. “So please, to all the American people, keep it up. If you want to see a bipartisan compromise, a bill that can pass both houses of Congress and that I can sign, let your Members of Congress know. Make a phone call, send an email, tweet. Keep the pressure on Washington and we can get past this.”
About 20 minutes later, the House switchboard was nearing capacity, according to the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.
“Due to the high volume of external calls, House telephone circuits serving 202-225-XXXX phone numbers are near capacity resulting in outside callers occasionally getting busy signals. Outbound calls are unaffected,” the CAO said in an email to staff. “During this time offices may wish to provide district office staff and key contacts with an alternate 202-226-XXXX extension, if available, until call volumes subside.”
Though he did not yet have the official figures, CAO Communications Director Dan Weiser said the call volume was noticeably higher.
“We have an uptick in calls that we’re receiving ever since the president spoke,” he said. “It’s not hugely much higher, but it’s higher than normal.”
The White House also began inciting Twitter users to tweet at Republicans. Obama’s campaign Twitter account, @BarackObama, began listing the accounts of Republicans alphabetically by state and imploring followers to contact them.
“Voters in Alabama: Tweet your Republican representative and ask them to support a bipartisan solution to the deficit crisis,” read one message.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.