By Sam Youngman - 08/11/11 07:15 PM EDT
President Obama blasted Congress from the road on Thursday, saying things would be worse if lawmakers returned to Washington.
“There is nothing wrong with our country,” Obama said in a speech at a Holland, Mich. plant. “There is something wrong with our politics.”
Obama rolled out what sounded like a new campaign theme Thursday that makes Washington gridlock his foil and the obstacle to increased economic recovery.
“The last thing we need is Congress spending more time arguing in D.C.,” Obama, grasping for an aggressive message amid economic turmoil, said to applause from the crowd.
“What I figure is they need to spend more time out here listening to you and hearing how fed up you are. That's why I'm here.”
In raking Congress over the coals, Obama, with his sleeves rolled up, tried to get in front of near universal disgust with Washington politics that has peaked since the debt ceiling agreement.
While Obama’s own poll numbers have faltered, Congress has hit all-time lows with the public.
A new poll by The Washington Post published Thursday showed that almost 75 percent of Americans “have little or no confidence in Washington to repair the economy.”
Eight of 10 respondents said that they are “dissatisfied with the way the political system is working, up dramatically from late 2009,” according to The Post poll.
A Gallup poll this week found just 24 percent of Americans said most members of Congress deserve reelection, the lowest total ever recorded by Gallup.
The president, who made his appearance on the same day a crowd of Republicans hoping to replace him attended the Iowa State Fair and prepared for their Thursday night debate, is not immune from that disdain for Washington, however.
The Washington Post poll showed that only 33 percent of respondents are confident that Obama will make the right decisions on the economy.
In Michigan, Obama did not single out Republicans or Democrats, but blasted Congress for what he said had been “the worst part of partisanship, the worst part of gridlock.”
“There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than American win,” Obama said. “And that's got to stop.
“We're supposed to all be on the same team. Especially during tough times,” he said.
House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerSunday shows preview: Cruz pulls out all the stops ahead of Indiana Sanders-Warren ticket would sweep the nation GOP rep. on 'Lucifer' remark: Boehner has ‘said much, much worse’ MORE (R-Ohio) quickly fired back at the president.
"President Obama likes to talk about being ‘the adult in the room’ – but there’s nothing ‘adult’ about political grandstanding," BoehnerJohn BoehnerSunday shows preview: Cruz pulls out all the stops ahead of Indiana Sanders-Warren ticket would sweep the nation GOP rep. on 'Lucifer' remark: Boehner has ‘said much, much worse’ MORE said in a statement.
As he did in the waning days of the debt fight, Obama urged the audience to write their members of Congress to urge them to “stop sending out press releases” and instead vote on legislation Obama said would immediately start creating jobs.
In discussing the recent decision by S&P to downgrade the United States' credit rating from AAA to AA, Obama said the trouble “could have been entirely avoided if there had been a willingness in Congress to compromise.”
“It was a self-inflicted wound,” Obama said.
The S&P downgrade added new uncertainties to the economy and has increased volatility on financial markets.
Earlier in the week, stocks plunged as Obama tried to reassure voters on the economy. The visuals were better Thursday, with the Dow Jones up more than 400 points as cable news carried the president’s remarks from Michigan.
The gridlock and the political circus that caused uncertainty and led to the credit rating downgrade are why people have turned against Washington, Obama said.
“That's why people are frustrated,” Obama said. “Maybe you hear it in my voice. It's why I'm frustrated. Because you deserve better.”
This story was last updated at 5:05 p.m.