President Obama told guests at a Democratic fundraiser in New York City Monday that he intends to push his second-term agenda, even as he has been unable to break the "fever" of "hyper-partisanship" in Washington.
"What’s blocking us right now is a sort of hyper-partisanship in Washington that I was, frankly, hoping to overcome in 2008, and in the midst of crisis rather than saying now’s the time for us to come together, decided to take another path," Obama said. "My thinking was when we beat them in 2012 that might break the fever, and it’s not quite broken yet."
"I genuinely believe there are Republicans out there who would like to work with us but they’re fearful of their base and they’re concerned about what Rush Limbaugh might say about them," Obama said. "And as a consequence we get the kind of gridlock that makes people cynical about government."
The comments came just hours after Obama accused Republicans of running a political "sideshow" with their investigation into the administration’s handling of the Benghazi Consulate attack.
"The whole thing defies logic," Obama said at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. "And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations…. They’ve used it for fundraising."
But White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier Monday that acrimony over the Benghazi investigation — and separate tensions over the Internal Revenue Service's admission it had wrongfully targeted conservative political action groups — would not derail efforts to reach compromises.
"I don't think so, because I think that there are imperatives to getting things done… whether it's immigration reform, steps we can take to strengthen the economy, the need to find a balanced way to reduce our deficit that protects our seniors and middle class, all the steps we need to take to improve our infrastructure, our education system and the like," Carney said.
"What is always the case is that members of Congress will embrace the opportunity to compromise if they see it as both the right thing to do and in their interest to do it."
Tickets to the small reception, with approximately 65 guests, cost between $16,200 and $20,000. The president is attending a second similarly priced dinner event later in the evening with 60 guests, as well as a third event at the Waldorf Hotel benefiting Democratic congressional candidates.
That event, which will include appearances from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSanders tests Wasserman Schultz Puerto Rico debt relief faces serious challenges in Senate Overnight Healthcare: House, Senate on collision course over Zika funding MORE (D-N.Y.), DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), and DSCC Chairman Michael BennetMichael BennetGOP Senate hopeful wants to go beyond Trump's Muslim ban Lawmakers push to elevate Cyber Command in Senate defense bill GOP ad calls Clinton 'a living history of scandal' MORE (D-Colo.), cost between $7,500 and $32,400 to attend. Approximately 140 supporters are expected.