Obama Trying to Tap Anti-Washington Anger

Obama's newly combative rhetoric reflects an attempt to harness populist rage.

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A combative President Obama threw down the gantlet to congressional Republicans this morning, challenging them to pass his $447 billion job-creation bill and accept his other ideas for strengthening the economy or "the American people will run them out of town."

[Read: Why Obama, Democrats Plan to Tie GOP to Wall Street.]

It was some of his toughest rhetoric yet. And it reflects the belief among Obama and his advisers that the country is growing increasingly frustrated and angry over the state of the economy and the lack of solutions from Washington. This growing resentment can be seen in the growing protests against Wall Street and corporate America in New York and other cities, White House strategists say. Obama wants to demonstrate that he is responding to the country's sense of urgency.

[See photos of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.]

In the process, Democratic strategists argue, Obama is also trying to generate more enthusiasm among liberals for his re-election. Many leaders on the left have been unhappy that Obama has compromised in the past with congressional conservatives, and he is trying to show them that he will fight for the middle class and the poor.

"Right now we have an emergency and the American people are living that emergency out every day," the president said at a White House news conference, adding that many are losing their homes, are unable to keep their children in college, and are losing healthcare.

[See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

"The American people understand that everybody is not following the rules," especially Wall Street, he said.

He endorsed a proposal by Senate Democrats to help finance his jobs plan with a 5 percent added tax on millionaires.

He added that he is still willing to work with Republicans in Congress but the GOP only wants to block his agenda, which includes more money for employing teachers and for projects that would employ construction workers such as building roads and bridges. Obama said the Republicans aren't coming up with good ideas of their own to improve the economy.

He said he will "keep hammering away" at the GOP as a "do-nothing Congress" until the Republicans change their ways.

It was Obama's first full-scale news conference since July 15.

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