Obama rallies House Democrats at retreat

President Obama looked to super-charge House Democrats at the caucus’s annual conference Friday in Cambridge, Md., reframing the critical points from his State of the Union address for the pep-rally-style atmosphere.

Obama referred to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the “soon-to-be-again Speaker of the House,” and invoked blue-collar imagery from his visit earlier in the day to Michigan, where he said the entire economic “ecosystem” would have been “decimated” and millions of jobs lost had his administration not intervened with the auto industry bailout.

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The Obama campaign will focus on the auto and manufacturing industries for examples of its policies, such as the “millionaire’s tax,” which it says will level the playing field for average, working Americans.

“The critical debate in this country right now, the defining question, is whether we are going to restore that sense of an American promise, where if you work hard … you have the chance to get a job that allows you to support your family,” Obama said. “That promise has been eroding for far too many people.”

The president also painted Republicans as the benefactors of big corporations, saying the only subsidies they think are worthwhile go to Big Oil, which has never been more profitable, and hitting Republicans for trying to repeal the regulations that have been imposed on the big banks since the financial meltdown.

“It makes no sense,” Obama said.

The president defended his vision for the country against the GOP argument that he’s breeding “class warfare.”

“This is one of the biggest things I’m going to push back on — that this is class warfare,” he said. “Everybody wants to be rich, the question is — are we creating that opportunity for everybody? We’re going to push hard for the Buffett Rule, not out of a sense of envy, but out of a sense of mutual responsibility … and the American people understand that.”

The president closed by saying that Democrats will receive a lot of push-back from Republicans because it’s an election year, but urged them not to back down.

“Where they obstruct, where they’re unwilling to act, where they’re more interested in party than in country, or more interested in the next election than the next generation, we have to call them out on it,” he said. “We can’t wait, we can’t be held back.”