The election may be over, but the campaign continues. On Friday, President Obama hit the trail once again to pressure Republicans into immediately extending tax cuts for Americans making under $250,000 a year.
“I need you to remind members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — to not get bogged down in a bunch of partisan bickering,” Obama told a crowd at a toy factory in Pennsylvania. “Let’s go ahead and focus on the people who sent us to Washington and make sure that we’re doing the right thing by them.”
Just a few weeks ago, Obama was asking similar crowds to vote and volunteer to help others do the same. Now he had a new message: tell Congress to pass a bill enacting his tax agenda and fast. Once those middle class tax cuts were secure, lawmakers could move on to finding a “fair and balanced, responsible plan” to cut the deficit.
“I want you to call, I want you to send an email, post on their Facebook wall,” he said. “If you tweet, then use a hashtag we’re calling #My2k.”
Friday’s campaign-style speech was the first of what will likely be many similar events. After the 2008 election, many Democrats criticized the White House for not keeping their grassroots organization to stay involved enough in fights over health care and spending. Obama took that advice to heart this year, saying repeatedly in interviews that he plans to take a more active approach to rallying public opinion in his second term.
“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside,” Obama said in September, a quote his advisers identified as a critical moment after the election. “You can only change it from the outside.”
Obama echoed that line in his speech on Friday. “The key is…that the American people have to be involved,” he said. “It’s not going to be enough for me to just do this on my own.”
To that end, the White House also sent an e-mail to supporters on Friday pushing them to stay involved in the fiscal cliff fight and directing them to a new website where they could comment on the issue. It was heavily reminiscent of Obama For America’s campaign e-mails, which helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
“You’re changing an entire policy conversation,” White House adviser David Plouffe wrote. “And we have to keep it up.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.