A campaigning President Barack Obama said Tuesday it will take a few years to dig the United States out of the recession, warning impatient voters that any candidate promising faster results "is just looking for your vote." The president's economic outlook, coming in the heat of a divisive congressional campaign, reflected his tricky political reality.
He must try to persuade people soured by the sagging economy that they should re-elect Democratic leaders now, but he also is laboring to get voters to measure his efforts with a long view, as he looks ahead to his own re-election campaign in 2012. Darting into Seattle to stir up enthusiasm and cash for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, Obama spoke as a president whose agenda is on the line. He has pushed through all his big legislative items with virtually no Republican backing.
Obama's heavy fundraising tour, touching just about every region of the country in three days, underscores the stakes of the November election. It is one that will be seen as a referendum on Obama and on Democratic control of Congress.
"He does think that we will hold onto both the House and the Senate," White House spokesman Bill Burton said of Obama. The party of the sitting president traditionally sees an erosion of congressional seats in the midterm elections.
Obama also met at a Seattle bakery with three thriving owners of small businesses, eager to put a human face on his contention that the country is bouncing back, thanks to resilient success stories and government help. But with millions of people out of work and economic growth slowing, the president has a tough sell as he touts steady progress.
"The truth is, it's going to take a few years to fully dig ourselves out of this recession. It's going to take time to bring back 8 million jobs," Obama said. "Anybody who tells you otherwise is just looking for your vote."
The president deepened his mockery of Republicans even as he accused them of trying to drive wedges in the nation. Assigning the Republicans the tag of a no-we-can't party, he added: "Really inspiring." He accused the Republican Party of offering cynicism and fear. "That's not who we are. That's not the country I know," Obama said. "We are Americans." Murray is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership and her contest is being closely watched by Democrats around the nation. She and Republican Dino Rossi won Tuesday's primary to advance to the November election.
Obama ended his day in Columbus, Ohio, pivoting to fundraising events there and in Miami on Wednesday before returning to the White House. Then comes an extended vacation with his family on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard.