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Obama seizes on GOP remarks to blame Tea Party for shutdown

President Obama attacked Tea Party Republicans Thursday, saying they were to blame for the federal shutdown entering its third day.

Obama seized on remarks by Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.), who told reporters Wednesday that Republicans were “not going to be disrespected.”

“We have to get something out of this,” Stutzman said of the shutdown. “And I don’t know what that even is.”

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Obama read the quote to his audience, with evident incredulity.

“If you're being disrespected, its because of that attitude you've got,” he said. “That you deserve to get something just for doing your job.”

Obama said ending the shutdown would mean a growing economy and new jobs.

“That's what you get,” he said. “That's what you should be asking for.”

Obama’s remarks at the event in suburban Maryland highlighted the White House’s confidence that it is winning the public relations fight with Republicans over the shutdown.

The White House has been bolstered by polls that show that, while both parties are blamed by voters for the shutdown, larger numbers blame Republicans.

And in a statement released Thursday, Stutzman walked back his remarks — an implicit acknowledgement he had provided Democrats a potent attack line.

“Yesterday, I carelessly misrepresented the ongoing budget debate and Speaker Boehner’s work on behalf of the American people," Stutzman said. "Despite my remarks it’s clear that the American people want both parties to come to the table to reopen the government, tackle this nation’s debt crisis, and stop ObamaCare’s pain.”

Democrats are also feeling confidence because of divisions in the GOP.

A number of House Republicans have called on their leaders to bring a clean funding bill to the floor, and a report in The Hill highlighted criticism of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for a lack of leadership in the shutdown fight.

Senate Republicans have also fiercely criticized Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for forcing a shutdown with a doomed effort to defund ObamaCare. A report in Politico Thursday highlighted Republican criticism that Cruz had no end game for his strategy.

Obama met with congressional leaders Wednesday at the White House to discuss a way out of the shutdown, but the meeting made no progress.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) criticized Obama Thursday for inviting leaders to a meeting in which he had no intention of compromising.

Cantor called it “unbelievable” that Obama would invite leaders to the White House to tell them he wouldn’t negotiate.

“I find it unbelievable that the president would call Speaker Boehner and others over to the White House just to let them know he wouldn't negotiate. You think about that; there's something very counterintuitive about that move,” Cantor told a handful of reporters Thursday morning.

House Republicans on Thursday plan to move more measures that would fund individual parts of the government, an effort they hope will build pressure on Senate Democrats to talk. The White House has threatened to veto those measures.

Obama and Senate Democrats have pressed House GOP leaders to bring a “clean” government-funding bill to the floor, and Obama on Thursday said “the only thing preventing people from going back to work" was Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

He said Boehner wouldn’t bring up a clean bill because he doesn’t want to anger “extremists in his party.”

“My message today is simple: Call a vote,” said Obama, who declared that there were enough Republican and Democratic votes to pass a bill without “partisan strings attached.”

“Put it on the floor, and let every individual member of Congress make up their own minds,” Obama said.

Cantor on Thursday said a clean vote wouldn’t be approved by the House because Democrats would oppose spending levels included in a clean bill.

The Senate bill funding the government through Nov. 15 reflects the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.

"Ask the Democrats in this House whether they support a clean [continuing resolution] with sequester or not," Cantor said Thursday.

“This assumption that everyone is operating on, that there is unanimity on the Democratic side, that they would support a CR at sequester level, is an assumption that I would question.”

House Democrats initially opposed a funding measure based on the sequester, but a number have said they would now support it to end the shutdown.

— Molly K. Hooper, Elise Viebeck and Bernie Becker contributed to this story.