White House: Time for 2012 politics is 'not now'

The time for presidential politicking is "not now," the White House said Thursday in response to the top Republican senator's bid to limit President Obama to one term.

The Obama administration pushed back against Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's (Ky.) stated goal of defeating Obama in 2012, a strategy to guide the party's legislative efforts in the next two years.

"We just finished a very contentious election, and we'll have plenty of time to fight out the 2012 presidential race," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in an official Web video. "But that time is not now."

The 2012 cycle unofficially kicked off on Nov. 3, the day after Republicans won a majority of seats in the House and ate into Democrats' majority in the Senate. Those victories came only after the congressional GOP served as a force for stubborn opposition against the White House and Democrats.

That strategy, McConnell said in a recent interview, was meant to help make Obama a one-term president. The top Senate GOP leader doubled down on those sentiments in a speech on Thursday, despite Democrats' protests for several weeks now that McConnell's words mean he won't negotiate in good faith.

"The president's reading of this election is that we all have to work together to find common ground to move this country forward," Gibbs said. "What we need to do now is all get together, sit at a table, listen to each other, and more importantly, work together."

To that end, Obama has invited congressional leaders in both parties to an informal meeting at the White House later this month, in particular to jump-start frosty relations with congressional Republicans.

Even if the White House gets McConnell to back off, they'll be feeling the 2012 pressure in no time. Republican contenders for the nomination got their campaigns under way as early as Wednesday.