WASHINGTON — Obama delivered a truck full of red meat to his Democratic base at a visit to a Ford plant in Kansas City Friday, part of his weeklong effort to cast the Republican Party as sore losers ahead of the ongoing fiscal fights.
Hours after Republicans in the House voted for a bill that would keep the government from defaulting on its debts only if the president agrees to defund his signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, Obama claimed Republicans in Congress still can't come to terms with the fact that they lost in 2012.
"They're not focused on you. They're focused on politics," he said of Republicans in Congress. "They're focused on trying to mess with me."
The president said the ongoing fight over Obamacare — which, at least theoretically, could lead to a government shutdown if neither side blinks in the budget fight — was the result of a party that can't accept his second term.
"The Affordable Care Act has been in law for three and a half years. It passed both houses of Congress, Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year's elections," Obama said. "The guy who was running against me said he was gonna repeal it. We won."
Obama cast a similar tone in a speech Monday that was largely overlooked due its timing during the ongoing investigation of a mass shooting in D.C.
"The last time the same crew threatened this course of action back in 2011 even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth. Everybody here remembers that. It wasn't that long ago," Obama said during the Monday speech at the White House. "Now the focus is on Obamacare... It was an issue in last year's election and the candidate who called for repeal lost. Republicans in the House have tried to repeal or sabotage it about 40 times. They've failed every time."
Republicans claim they have a mandate to fight Obamacare every step of the way, and point to polling showing the public distrust of the law just a few months before its implemented as evidence that they're on the right side of the issue. But many Republicans believe default and/or government shutdown — threats leveled by some conservative Republicans trying to get leverage on the White House over the ACA — is a dangerous political strategy and one that will cost them dearly with voters in 2014.
Obama appears ready to help prove that theory.
"You don't have to blow everything up just because you don't get your way," Obama said, to applause and laughter in Kansas City on Friday. "Right?"
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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