By Justin Sink - 06/27/14 12:33 PM EDT
President Obama offered a scathing indictment of congressional Republicans during an economic speech in Minnesota on Friday, accusing his political opponents of failing to “do anything, except block me and call me names.”
The president argued the GOP had “blocked or voted down every serious idea to strengthen the middle class” offered by Democrats this year.
The remarks felt like an opening to the serious campaign season, given Congress’s departure from Washington for the July 4 recess.
Lawmakers have spent relatively little time legislating all year given divisions between the GOP House and Democratic Senate, and it’s expected to be even tougher to move legislation in the weeks before the August recess.
The White House hopes to paint Republicans as obstinate and uncompromising in a bid to save Senate control for Democrats.
The GOP needs to pick up six seats to gain control of the Senate, and believes it has three wins in the bag. Republican chances of taking back the Senate have grown with Obama’s poor approval ratings and the party’s own success in nominating a strong slate of candidates.
The president met with Senate Democrats on Wednesday and highlighted an improving economy in seeking to buck up their optimism.
On Friday, he sought to portray House Republicans as overreaching by threatening to take him to court over his use of executive actions.
“They've decided they're going to sue me for doing my job,” Obama said of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) promise of a lawsuit.
“If you’re mad at me for helping people on my own, then join me and we’ll do it together,” Obama said.
“I want to work with you, but you gotta give me something,” Obama said. “You gotta try to deliver something. Anything.”
Obama even invoked the coming holiday and the U.S. men’s national soccer team in the World Cup.
“We could get a lot of that done right now if Congress would actually think about you and not about getting reelected, not about the next election, not about some media sound byte,” Obama said.
The president’s remarks concluded a two-day swing through the Twin Cities in which Obama made campaign-style stops at a job training center, an ice cream parlor and a local bar.
Republicans dismissed the rhetoric.
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), argued on Twitter that Democrats had blocked the Keystone XL oil pipeline and repeal of the medical device tax — GOP priorities that enjoy bipartisan support.
“The president, again talking about Washington like it's a place where he doesn't live,” Stewart said.
Boehner’s planned lawsuit, which the president has said is an election-year stunt, argues Obama has abused his power with executive actions. Republicans think that message will gin up their base in the midterm elections.
“The American people, their elected representatives, and the Supreme Court have all expressed serious concerns about the President’s failure to follow the Constitution,” said Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman.
“Dismissing them with words like, ‘smidgen’ or ‘stunt’ only reinforces their frustration,” he said.