President Obama quipped to a group of donors in New York tonight that he should export some East Coast voters to the Midwest to increase Democrats’ power in Washington.
Obama was helping the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraise at the Upper East Side home of investment banker Blair Effron, whom he credited with sticking by him “when people couldn’t pronounce my name.”
Tickets for the event, which followed a DNC roundtable in NYC with the same pricetag, were $32,400.
Obama reiterated a main theme of his midterm fundraising: that the American people are with Democrats on every core issue. “The country is, by most measures, doing much better than when I came into office,” he said. “And that’s demonstrable… if you look at the numbers you’d say not only are we moving in the right direction but we’ve actually got better cards than most other countries around the world.”
He said lingering “anxiety” among Americans can be “partly” attributed to the Bush administration: “because people still feel traumatized by what happened in 2007-2008.”
“It’s not as if we’ve got no good ideas on policy. We’ve got tons of them. I’ve got a drawer full of things that we know would create jobs, help our middle class, boost incomes, make us more competitive. But we have a party on the other side that has been captured by an ideology that says no to everything because they cling to a rigid theory that the only way to grow the economy is for government to be dismantled and let the market sort things out, and folks at the top doing very well will somehow automatically trickle down to everybody else.”
Obama added that “the only reason we’ve been able to make some progress and gain some traction is because we’ve had a Senate in Democratic hands that has shown extraordinary unity.”
“There are very few issues, if any, in which the Republican position enjoys the majority public support. But we’ve got one problem — we have a congenital disease which is, during midterms our voters don’t show up. That’s what it comes down to. That and population distribution and gerrymandering,” he said.
He explained that he was campaigning in Brooklyn once with Bill de Blasio. “And I go into buy some cheesecake — some woman comes up and hugs me and kisses me and says, oh, my sister just got on the Affordable Care Act and we love you. What can we do to support you? And I said, move to North Dakota,” he quipped. “If I could just get about a million excess votes in Brooklyn out to Nebraska, Wyoming, we’d be doing OK. I don’t need 80 percent of the vote here.”
“So we’ve got some structural disadvantages, but we do not vote during midterms. Our voters are younger; they’re more likely to be minority; unmarried women. They’re folks who can get galvanized and excited during presidential elections, but we have a tougher time communicating with them during midterms. And that’s what we have to break. We have to break that cycle.”
Turning to his 2008 campaign theme, Obama said his “main message is one of hope.”
“We’ve got all the ingredients to make this the American Century, just like the last one. To achieve it, though, we’ve got to make sure our political system works better. And, yes, there are all kinds of reforms that we need to do, from campaign finance to how a filibuster works, to going after Republicans hard when their main political agenda when it comes to — or main election strategy is preventing people from voting — we’ve got to push back on all that stuff,” he said. “But ultimately, there are enough voters out there to deliver if we can turn them out.”