White House hits Ryan, McConnell for practicing the 'politics of division'

The White House's top spokesman said Wednesday that despite charges from Republicans that President Obama is too partisan, it is Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) who are practicing the "politics of division."

In response to a speech Ryan gave at the Heritage Foundation, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama is "going to keep taking a pickax to the rock and try to break down that kind of resistance to the sort of bipartisan cooperation that he believes the American people are crying out for."

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Ryan lit into the Democratic administration for suggesting an increase in taxes on wealthier Americans to trim the deficit, saying that instead of "appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, [Obama] has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment."

Carney twice noted Senate Minority Leader McConnell's (R-Ky.) statement declaring that his top priority was denying Obama a second term, calling the remark "unfortunate."

"I would simply remind Congressman Ryan that the Republican leader in the other body, the Senate, made clear in public statements that his number-one priority wasn’t to work with Democrats, wasn’t to work with the president, wasn’t to get things done in a way that the American people want them to get done, but to -- his number-one priority, as he said explicitly, was to do everything he could to assure that President Obama was not reelected," Carney said. "It sounds like politics of division to me."

Obama has gone on the offensive against Republicans in Congress in recent weeks, touring the country to promote his American Jobs Act while raising campaign money and blasting his GOP critics.



Carney said the president "still believes that we can work together because that's what -- not because he has some power to make it happen, but because the American people are really fed up with the continual dysfunction we find in Washington."


"You see it again and again and again when you talk to folks out in the country and you see it in data -- they're just fed up with that dysfunction," Carney said. "They're fed up with people putting party ahead of country."

The president's spokesman said that as Obama has worked to rescue the economy with "measure after measure where he sought Republican support."  

"And again, I think we know now from what we've heard quite explicitly from Republican leaders is that their priority was to prevent the president from getting that bipartisan support because they thought it was politically advantageous for them to do so," Carney said. 

In his speech Ryan called the president's criticisms of Republicans "petty and trivial," pointing to more than a dozen bills the House has passed to help spur economic growth and deal with the debt, "only to see the president’s party kill those bills in the do-nothing Senate."