President Barack Obama says Washington’s recent dysfunction is the result of a Republican Party focused mostly on “cockamamie” legislation, telling donors he wanted to reach across the aisle more because he is not a partisan.
During a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Tuesday night in New York, described himself as "not somebody who bleeds Democrat,” even though he is still the head of party.
“That necessarily makes me a partisan,” Obama said, according to a pool report released by the White HOuse. “But I’m actually not somebody who bleeds Democrat.
"I think back to 2008, and I meant what I said: I don’t think a party traditionally has a monopoly on what’s right," Obama said. "I come from the Land of Lincoln," he added in reference to the 16th U.S. president, a Republican, whom Obama has said influenced him greatly.
He noted another Republican president, Richard Nixon, established the Environmental Protection Agency, and that former President Lyndon Johnson passed the 1968 Civil Rights Act with a "whole bunch of Republican votes."
However, Republican lawmakers consistently refer to Obama as just that: a liberal Democrat who is unwilling to negotiate with Republicans or entertain their conservative-leaning ideas.
Notably, Obama suggested the GOP’s recent focus on issues important to the most conservative members and voters — ones that cannot pass a narrowly divided Senate nor garner the signature of a Democratic president — is "not inevitable" to continue forever.
Still, the departing and legacy-minded Obama was quick to pin the recent run of dysfunction squarely on Republicans.
“We have made progress despite an opposition party that has been in the majority the last two years, which is not functioning,” he said.
And just as he begins negotiating with congressional Republicans a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running past the end of the month, and tries to finish a criminal justice overhaul, Obama criticized the GOP for pursuing "cockamamie legislation" with no chance of becoming law.
He also tried to pry donations from those in attendance by warning them that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the party’s congressional candidates differ greatly from Hillary Clinton and the party's down-ballot candidates.
“We have one presidential candidate one set of congressional candidates who look at the facts, look at the evidence study policy,” Obama said. “And then you have another set of people who basically believe in the opposite. … And it doesn’t matter to them that the facts do not match their positions and have been repeatedly refuted.”
The fundraising event was held at the New York City home of Jim Chanos, a longtime Democratic activist and big-time donor. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, DCCC chairman, also attended the fundraiser. Tickets for the event started at $16,700, according to a DCCC official.
Chanos, who founded the Kynikos Associates hedge fund, went right after Trump in his opening remarks.
"The easiest short sales I’ve ever had in my life were the stocks and bonds of Donald J. Trump’s companies,” he said. “It was like numerous ocean liners hitting numerous icebergs, repeatedly."