President Barack Obama made an election-season appeal Saturday to disgruntled liberal activists and bloggers, assuring them his administration is committed to their causes and urging them to help elect Democrats in November.
"Change hasn't come fast enough for too many Americans. I know that," Obama said in a surprise video appearance at the annual Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas. "I know it hasn't come fast for many of you who fought so hard during the election."
In a year when Democrats are expected to lose seats in Congress, party leaders have grown concerned with malaise in the left wing. Liberals who helped elect Obama in 2008 have grown disenchanted on issues from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the failure to create a government-run insurance option in the health care overhaul, and many believe the White House has been too accommodating with Republicans.
In his remarks, the president said the combat mission in Iraq would soon end, and that the administration is working to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays and close the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay.
"In ways large and small we've begun to deliver on the change you fought so hard for," Obama said.
"We cant afford to slide backward. And that's the choice America faces this November," he added. "Keep up the fight."
Hundreds of activists and bloggers applauded warmly after the video ended, but some were not appeased.
The video "doesn't really change my views. I'm still waiting for action," said Matthew Filipowicz, 33, a cartoonist and comedian from Chicago. "Words only do so much."
Obama's video was introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who received a standing ovation from most of the people in the cavernous, partly filled auditorium at a Las Vegas casino.
In her remarks, Pelosi referred to "differences of opinions," and like Obama ticked off legislative victories like the health care overhaul and broad reform of the U.S. banking and financial sector.
Echoing the president, she asked the crowd to recognize what's been achieved in Washington since Obama's election and not let differences cause a political fissure.
The day after the election "we want to have no regrets," Pelosi said.
When asked a question about the military policy on gay servicemembers, someone shouted from the audience.
"Your impatience is justified," Pelosi said.
Just two days after Senate Democrats gave up plans to attempt to pass an energy bill that caps greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, Pelosi said "this is not an issue the Senate can walk away from."
The plan was a priority of Obama, who had hoped to add a climate bill to his list of legislative successes.
"We'll welcome whatever the Senate can pass to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Pelosi said. "Sooner or later this has to happen."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was slated to speak at the convention Saturday afternoon. Reid faces Republican and tea party favorite Sharron Angle this November in his bid to keep representing Nevada.
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