Obama encouraged House Democrats to acknowledge the struggle and pain American families are going through while they were on the campaign trail.
WASHINGTON — A former President Barack Obama advised House Democrats that they recognize the struggle American families are going through as the legislators attempt to run this year. Multiple sources familiar with the discussion said so.
In a virtual meeting lasting 70 minutes, he told House Democrats that the past few years have been difficult for Americans. They’ve had to navigate a pandemic, interrupt their schooling, and struggle to find child care, while inflation has stretched dollars. He encouraged Democrats not to focus on the failures of Democrats and to get to know voters.
One House Democrat, who was present at the virtual meeting, said that Obama’s message encouraged him to “acknowledge the pain people feel.” The lawmaker stated that he sympathizes with people and agrees with them, but he does not want to be a policymaker.
As Democrats face a difficult campaign season, with a continuing pandemic and mixed economic indicators, the former president offers some advice. Two major pieces of legislation they spent more than a year advocating have been blocked by them so far. According to polls, President Joe Biden’s approval rating has fallen into the 40s. Generic ballots also show that Democrats are only barely ahead of Republicans in congressional elections.
Obama advised Democrats not to fall into the trap of drawing attention on what they were unable to do. This included the failure to pass voting rights legislation, the $1.7 trillion Build back Better agenda which addresses climate change and advances programs.
Obama encouraged Democrats not to ignore parents’ frustrations about child care, and suggested that members who are parents can share their experiences. Obama’s message was praised by a second lawmaker. He said, “Acknowledge the difficulties of these times and express empathy.”
Biden often presented a positive picture when asked about economic indicators. He pointed to rising employment numbers across the country.
However, lawmakers seem to prefer Obama’s approach more.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (R-Ga.), who is likely to face one the most difficult campaigns of the year, released a campaign ad recently in which he stated, “People hurt.” People are tired.”
Warnock noted that he was a pastor and said, “What I want Georgians to know is that you see me.” I hear you. I am you.”
Republicans view this as weakness. They say that when Democratic candidates have to acknowledge that things aren’t going well under a Democratic-controlled government, it is evidence that Democrats have few good communications options.
Senate Republicans have focused their campaign message around inflation and the economy. They hold nearly weekly press conferences where they blame Democratic policies on the rising costs of staples like food and gasoline. According to a January NBC News poll, more than 70% of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.
Sources who spoke at the virtual meeting stated that pollsters from an earlier meeting had told House Democrats that people believed inflation was real and dangerous before the session with Obama.
Arizona Democrat Sen. Mark Kelly said that it is crucial to address people’s problems. He said rising prices are “what we’re discussing” on the campaign trail and that “folks feel this”.
After a similar letter to Biden, he presented legislation this week that would reduce the federal gas tax by half to lower prices. To discuss the government’s efforts to lower the cost of meat, he invited Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary to Arizona. He sent Biden a letter asking for help in reducing food costs.
Kelly stated, “It’s what voters are thinking about most than anything else.”
Obama stated that Democrats have achievements and that voters should be reminded. Sources claim Obama advised the members how to accomplish both. Obama told House Democrats to not hide their achievements, pointing out the largest infrastructure bill in decades and the assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan, the last Covid relief bill.
“It is important to acknowledge that the past two years have been difficult, but it is equally important to say that I feel an uplift,” stated Sen. Tim Kaine from Virginia.