GOP outraged by Obama comments

Republicans expressed outrage over President Obama's public comments Monday on the "fiscal cliff," warning he had hurt prospects for a deal. 

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said President Obama likely lost votes for the deficit-reduction deal because of the “pep rally” he chose to hold Monday.

“I just listened to the president and my heart is still pounding,” Corker said on the floor Monday minutes after Obama called on Congress to finish work on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

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“I was very disappointed to hear what the president had to say in front of a prep rally," he said. “I know the president has fun heckling Congress, but I think he probably lost a number of votes with this.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he couldn't understand why Obama would mock Republicans in the midst of delicate talks. 

"What did the president of the United States just do?" McCain said. "He sent a message of confrontation to Republicans."

"I guess I have to wonder — and I think the American people have to wonder — whether the president really wants this issue resolved, or is it to his short-term political benefit to go over the cliff?"

Obama's comments also provoked howls from the GOP on Twitter, with several Republican operatives raising questions about why he would hit the GOP as Vice President Biden and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) appear to be closing in on a deal to prevent looming tax hikes and spending cuts set to begin in January. 

The president in his comments said a deal was close but not done yet. He spoke in front of people the White House identified as "middle class taxpayers" who repeatedly applauded as Obama took shots at Congress for its inaction on the fiscal-cliff issues.

McCain said Obama's comments would "clearly antagonize" House Republicans.  

"What he was saying is … take it or leave it," McCain said. "That's not the way presidents should lead."

— Pete Kasperowicz contributed.