, BALTIMORE, Jan 30 – President Barack Obama on Friday chided Republicans for portraying his health reform plan as a "Bolshevik plot" and for saying he wanted to do "crazy stuff that is going to destroy America."
In a highly unusual televised question-and-answer session, Obama told his foes they should not just oppose him for political gain, warning that elected officials should care more about jobs of voters than their own.
"I\’m not a pundit, I\’m just a president. So take it for what it\’s worth — but I don\’t believe that the American people want us to focus on our job security."
"They want us to focus on their job security," Obama said, at a retreat for Republican members of the House of Representatives in Baltimore.
Voters did not want gridlock, partisanship and obstruction, Obama argued, in an appearance which effectively used the symbolism of his office, in a week in which he has tried to reboot his presidency after a brutal political year.
"They didn\’t send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel cage match to see who comes out alive. That\’s not what they want."
"They sent us to Washington to work together, to get things done, and to solve the problems that they\’re grappling with every single day."
Obama has repeatedly stressed that Washington politics are broken — the issue played an important part in his campaign in 2008 — but has been unable to make any progress in forging bipartisan consensus since he took office.
Democrats blame lock-step Republican opposition for that failure, while Republicans argue they were frozen out of key legislation — including Obama\’a health reform plan which is currently stalled in Congress.
Obama complained that Republicans had misrepresented the plan, during a fiery campaign against the bill, and said their vehemence left themselves no political room to make the compromises Americans wanted.
"Frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you\’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot," Obama said.
"So all I\’m saying is we\’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.
"You\’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you\’ve been telling your constituents is, \’This guy\’s doing all kinds of crazy stuff that\’s going to destroy America.\’"