Here he said that the lesson of the year — the first of his second term — showed “that although the American people are full of common sense, and in their workplaces and in their families and their congregations, on the soccer fields and all the various parts of their life, they’re looking out for one another and they’re making good decisions and are resilient in the face of challenges, that’s not very often reflected in Washington.”

“The only way that we can realign our politics so that it matches up with the decency and goodness of the American people is if elections matter, and we’re able to both deliver a message and organize ourselves so that folks who aren’t acting responsibly pay a consequence, and that we’re lifting up and rewarding candidates who are serious about the challenges this country faces and are willing to work together in a spirit that is constructive in order to deliver for the American people.”

That, Obama continued, is “what 2012 was about, and that’s what 2014 was about, and I suspect that’s what 2016 is going to be about.”

“And I have to say that I’m a proud Democrat and am committed to the values that the Democratic Party represents, but I’m also interested in getting the Republican Party back in a functioning state. Because this country has two parties, and we need both of them operating in a way that allows us to move forward,” he said. “And I think that will eventually happen. Voters have an ability I think to help parties self-correct, although sometimes it takes more than one cycle to do it. But in the meantime, we can’t just be standing still.”

Obama never mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) by name — the closest he came was a reference to “one senator from Texas” — but Cruz was ready with a rebuke of the Dallas trip.

“President Obama should take his broken promises tour elsewhere so Texans can continue focusing on the solutions that have allowed our state to become and remain the nation’s economic and job creation powerhouse,” Cruz said.

Carney said Obama picked Dallas for his trip “because Dallas is one of the 10 cities with the highest number of uninsured residents in the country.”

He said Obama wanted to press for Medicaid expansion here because “while it’s perhaps the case that Texas Republicans may not be responsive to the views of a Democratic president or a Democratic administration, they may at least take into account to some degree the views of their constituents.”

Asked whether the Virginia governor’s race gave a renewed mandate to Obamacare, Carney said “if anything, healthcare worked in Gov.-elect McAuliffe’s favor and to the disadvantage as an issue of his opponent.”

“In a race where history was tilted against the Democrat, 40 years of history tilted against the Democrat, one candidate ran as a fierce opponent of the Affordable Care Act, made it the central issue of his platform; another candidate ran embracing the Affordable Care Act,” he added. “One of them won, and one of them lost.”