Another day, another attempt at outreach by President Barack Obama.
He is scheduled to meet today with majority Democrats in the Senate to solicit support for his agenda and urge them to unite behind his leadership. This follows a stand-by-me reception Tuesday with House Democrats, who are in the minority. And Obama coordinated strategy Monday with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Michael Bennet, Colo., chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Obama wants to attract the votes of fellow Democrats for his initiatives, such as raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits and overhauling the immigration laws. But at the same time, Democrats are nervous about damaging their re-election prospects this November in states such as Louisiana and Arkansas, where Obama is unpopular. Some senators feel that Obama may drag them down because of the messy rollout of his new health care law and other problems associated with his administration, such as relatively high unemployment.
In another flashpoint, Democratic legislators in conservative states, such as Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, are urging Obama to support the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the United States, while environmental groups strongly oppose it.
Obama has tried charm offensives with legislators before, but has done so only sporadically during his five years in office. Some members of Congress say he was never interested in building long-term relationships but courted them only when he needed their help, such as in seeking votes for his Iranian policy.
Now he is facing renewed opposition from Democrats to key parts of his agenda, such as fast-track trade authority, and that's one reason for the current outreach."This has to do with overall views of the priorities the president laid out, and how to move forward on them," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.