President Barack Obama used a taxpayer-funded Monday bus trip to Cannon Falls, Minn., to repeat his now common claim that Republicans put their party ahead of the nation’s interest during the July dispute over the federal debt ceiling.
“Some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than America win … we can’t have patience with that kind of behavior anymore,” Obama told a crowd estimated at 500 supporters.
“He’s accusing his opponents of being unpatriotic, and at some point the next step is [accusing them of] being traitorous,” Michael Franc, vice president for government studies at the Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller Monday afternoon. “If Michele Bachmann had said ‘If you disagree with me, you’re unpatriotic,’ [Democrats] would be calling it a loyalty oath or a religious test,” Franc said.
“I’m shaking my head because this is a losing strategy,” said Frank Donatelli, chairman of GOPAC, which raises money to train and aid GOP leaders.
“The one thing an incumbent president should do is to keep the mantle of incumbency as long as possible and to keep the political season as short as possible,” Donatelli explained. But Obama is fundraising instead, and sharply criticizing Republicans, instead of trying to pass legislation through Congress, he said. “He’s depreciating his biggest asset, which is the bully pulpit.”
Obama’s focus on this party-before-nation theme on the stump could attract the approval of progressives and boost turnout by his liberal base next year. Polls show his support among left-leaning voters has dipped in recent months.
“The people that he really needs [in 2012] are the independents and the people in the middle, but they don’t want their president complaining all the time,” Donatelli explained. (RELATED: GOP doubles down on criticism during Obama’s bus tour)
“It might do well with his base, but it ought to alienate, if not infuriate, independent voters,” Franc said. Overall, Obama “seems to be increasingly defensive” about the failure of his policies to reverse the downward direction of the economy and his poll ratings, said Franc. “They may feel they’re out of bullets, nothing is working, and what it is casting aspersions on people [rather] than admit they were wrong and move in another direction.”
The Republicans who most strongly opposed Obama’s debt-ceiling agenda also oppose their own party’s free-spending record, said Franc. “They’ve clearly shown that they put country before party.”
It was during an Aug. 11 speech at the Johnson Controls factory in Holland, Mich. that Obama first claimed GOP leaders were placing party above country. “The only thing preventing these bills from being passed is the refusal of some folks in Congress to put the country ahead of party,” the president said, and “there are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.”