(WASHINGTON) — President Obama Wednesday night defended his “charm offensive” against Congress, saying he is simply trying to break through some of the “gobbledygook of our politics.”
“We have to get members of Congress involved in these discussions, not just leadership, because I think a lot of them feel as if they don’t have the opportunity to break out of some of this partisan gridlock,” he told supporters at the Organizing for Action summit in Washington, just hours after meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Addressing the organization for the first time, the president dismissed criticism that the newly formed advocacy group is focused on recapturing Democratic control of the House in 2014. “No, I actually just want to govern. At least for a couple of years,” he said.
Organizing for Action was formed from Obama’s campaign organization to promote the president’s legislative agenda and, as he explained, to “make sure people stay involved.”
“What we want is to make sure that the voices of the people who put me here continue to be heard,” he explained. “That they’re not just heard during election time… That we are helping to build or sustain a network of citizens who have a voice in the most critical debates.”
Obama admitted they made a mistake in 2008 by failing to sustain his grassroots support once he took office. “We were only playing an inside game,” he said.
“You can’t change Washington from the inside,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always claimed. I’ve always said that I am representing people. And that change comes about because… people are involved. People shape the agenda. People determined the framework for debate. People let their members of Congress know what it is they believe. And when those voices are heard you can’t stop it. That’s when change happens.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Tom LoBianco, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Ruth Brown and Lis Stewart, Idaho Press-Tribune
Stephen Collinson, CNN