Obama tries to rally progressives to debt fight

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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Democrats and progressives should be as invested in the fight to bring down the federal debt as Republicans and conservatives, President Barack Obama told supporters Monday night at a fundraiser.

Obama received applause from the crowd at Washington’s Capital Hilton Hotel when he listed first-term accomplishments like the health care law, the auto industry bailout and education investments.

But the crowd was quiet when the president sought to rally his base to help tackle the federal debt.

“Let me tell you, we as Democrats, we as progressives, need to be just as concerned about the debt as anybody else,” Obama said, “Because that’s how we will be able to move our vision forward — investing in education, investing in infrastructure, investing in clean energy, if we’ve got a government that lives within its means. So we’ve got to be concerned about that.”

Obama appeared alongside Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the new chair of the Democratic National Committee.

The president did not, however, use the killing of Osama bin Laden as an applause line in his speech, choosing instead to talk more generally about America’s efforts in the Middle East.

“We regained momentum in Afghanistan and are now in the process of transition where we can bring our troops home,” Obama said, to applause from the audience. “We have gone after al Qaeda relentlessly — and made America safer in the process.”

Obama bragged about making “record” investments in clean energy, repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and appointing two women to the Supreme Court.

He also joked about circumstances he saw as beyond his control, including the Gulf oil spill.

“We’ve dealt with pirates and — (laughter) — you remember pirates? — (laughter) — H1N1 and an oil spill and locusts,” Obama said. “So we’ve been pretty busy.”

“And I couldn’t be prouder of our record over the last two years,” he continued. “Promises were made during the campaign and so many promises have been kept.”