Obama on climate change: ‘The politics of this are tough’

“If we invest now, we will create jobs, we will create entire new industries; other countries will be looking to catch up, they will be looking to import what we do,” Obama said at one of two fundraisers supporting Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee efforts to retake the House next year.

Obama’s remarks came at the home of billionaire Tom Steyer, a major supporter of green energy and climate initiatives who is planning to play an active role in the 2014 elections.

Obama said earth’s temperature probably isn’t the “number one concern” for workers who haven’t seen a raise in a decade, have an underwater mortgage, are spending $40 to fill their gas tank, can’t afford a hybrid car, and face other challenges.

“And so part of what we’re going to have to do is to marry a genuine, passionate concern about middle-class families and everybody who is trying to get into the middle class to show them that we’re working just as hard for them as we are for our environmental agenda, and that we can bridge these things in a way that advances the causes of both,” Obama said.

“And that’s going to take some work,” he said at the home of Steyer and his wife, Kat Taylor.

The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Justin Sink have much more on Obama’s fundraising swing here.

Obama, facing congressional gridlock, has vowed to take more aggressive steps on climate change using executive action during his second term, but hasn’t laid out a detailed agenda.

Environmentalists are pressing Obama to impose carbon standards and reject the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Steyer’s environmental work includes campaigning against Keystone, but Obama didn’t mention the proposed pipeline during his remarks at the two fundraisers Wednesday.

Anti-Keystone activists demonstrated outside the second event, held at the home of Ann and Gordon Getty.

Major climate bills currently face grim prospects on Capitol Hill. But Obama said at the Getty home that Congress has an important role.

“If we’re going to deal with climate change in a serious way, then we’ve got to have folks in Congress — even when it’s not politically convenient — to talk about it and advocate for it,” Obama said at the second event.

Obama said he needs help from Congress and noted it would be “a whole lot easier to govern” if Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.

“If we’re going to deal with the $2 trillion of deferred maintenance we’ve got in terms of infrastructure — not just roads and bridges, but a smart grid that can connect up clean energy to our cities — and make sure that we continue to reduce not only existing loads of renewable energy, but also discovering those breakthroughs that are going to make all the difference down the future, then I’m going to need some more help in Congress,” Obama said.

—This post was updated at 7:08 a.m.

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