Obama talks economy, but directs aides to immigration, Obamacare

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama told his most loyal supporters Monday night in Washington, D.C. that he will publicly pivot back to the public’s highest priority — the economy.

But he also told his 300 campaign aides, community organizers, donors and top political allies that they would remain focused on issues that the public views as low priority.

In several pending speeches this week, “I’m going to talk about where we need to go from here; how we need to put behind us the distractions and the phony debate and nonsense that somehow passes for politics these days, and get back to basics,” he told the members of his Organizing for America group, which serves as his year-round campaign force.

The public speeches will “get Washington and the press to refocus on the economy and the struggles that middle-class families are going through,” Obama declared at one of two speeches he gave June 22.

Those OFA donors and volunteers, however, would be directed at issues that progressives care about, such as rewriting the nation’s immigration laws.

“We’re going to need you to continue to stay involved to get immigration reform across the finish line — because now is the time for us to get comprehensive immigration reform done,” he said. This August, a well-funded coalition of progressives and wealthy business-owners is expected to pressure the House GOP to accept the Senate’s draft immigration bill.

Also, “we’re going to need you to stay involved when it comes to climate change,” he said.

“We’ve continued to have you guys get so active on the Affordable Care Act, because starting on October 1st, we are going to be able to sign up people for these marketplaces that are going to give people a square deal when it comes to their health insurance,” he declared at the “OFA Action August Summit” held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

In April, Gallup reported that the economy and jobs were seen as the most important issues by 42 percent of the population. At least 20 million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed.

In contrast, health-care scored 6 percent, and climate-change wasn’t mentioned by the respondents. Immigration got only 4 percent.

Obama has spent much time pushing for curbs on gun-rights, but he didn’t mention that item in the main speech to OFA’s volunteers.

But he did bring it up during the shorter speech he gave to the elite group of roughly 70 OFA people earlier that evening.

“There’s no more important question for this country than how do we create an economy in which everybody who works hard feels like they can get ahead and feel some measure of security,” he told the first meeting, which included the Democratic leader in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

But, he added, “obviously, the scourge of gun violence is something that we still have to stay focused on.”

The Gallup poll reported that only 4 percent of Americans deemed guns or gun-control to be the top issue facing the country.

“If we’re not vigilant, we can see a continued erosion in women’s rights and civil rights,” Obama added.

Women’s rights was not mentioned in the Gallup survey of America’s top issues.

In January, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press also reported on the pubic’s priorities. The economy scored 86 and jobs scored 79, giving them the two top slots.

“Dealing with illegal immigration” took the 17th ranking slot, with a score of 39, followed by a “strengthening gun laws,” at 37, and climate regulation won the last slot, with a score of 28.

Women’s rights was not mentioned in the Pew report.

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