Playing both sides, President Barack Obama is trying to balance his public pressure campaign on Republicans over the looming "fiscal cliff" with his private negotiations with Republican leaders, as the December 31 deadline nears.
Obama's advisers see the approach as key to winning concessions from Republicans on taxes and reaching a deal to avert tax hikes and spending cuts. But Obama's public lambaste of Republican lawmakers as obstructionists for not giving in to White House demands that tax rates rise on the top 2% of income earners could hit their private talks.
The White House says it plans to continue on both tracks.Asked if the president would be more focused on his public efforts or private talks, White House spokesman Jay Carney said "both." "We will continue to engage with leaders on Capitol Hill, we will continue to engage with a broader coalition of people who have a stake in this."
But Republicans have made clear that they see the president's public campaign as a hindrance to private negotiations.