President Barack Obama on Friday blamed dysfunction in Congress on a Republican Party he said is captive to an ideologically rigid, unproductive and cynical faction, urging like-minded Democrats to show up for November's midterm elections.
Addressing Democratic donors at a fundraiser in Rhode Island and another in New York, Obama said Republicans had realized that blocking all progress led Americans to become cynical about government. Republicans consider that "a pretty good thing" because they don't believe in government to begin with, Obama said.
"It doesn't have to be that way," Obama said during a barbecue in Purchase, New York. "There has been a certain cynical genius to what some of these folks have done in Washington."
Later, at an event in Newport, Rhode Island, he told donors: "The answer to our challenges is actually pretty simple. We need a better Congress."
The event at Seafair, the gated, crescent-shaped, oceanfront Newport home of businessman Rick Bready and Betty Easton, was expected to raise between $15,000 and $32,400 from each of approximately 60 guests. Also on hand was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. It was the ninth fundraiser Obama attended this year for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
About 250 people paid up to $32,400 to attend the pre-Labor Day fundraiser at the Purchase home of Wall Street consultant Robert Wolf, an Obama fundraiser who has served on White House advisory boards and also plays golf with the president. The money from that event and another in New Rochelle, New York, went to the Democratic National Committee, which is still paying off debt from 2012.
Reflecting on challenges in the U.S. and abroad, Obama called on Democrats to remain engaged in the upcoming elections, arguing that he needs a Congress willing to work with him to be able to confront the troubles people are facing.
"If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart," Obama said, referring to crises from the Middle East to Europe. "The good news is that American leadership has never been more necessary."
In a last-minute change, Obama was to return to the White House late Friday, interrupting his weekend trip. He had originally planned to overnight in New York before heading on Saturday to the wedding of Sam Kass, Obama's personal chef, to MSNBC host Alex Wagner. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama himself made the decision to return to the White House and that it was unrelated to any current events.
Obama now plans to travel back to Westchester County in New York on Saturday afternoon to attend the wedding.
The trips come as Obama considers how to respond to the Islamic State terrorist threat and Russia's apparent invasion of Ukraine.
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