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Obama on campaign trail amid controversies

US President Barack Obama waves to the crowd with Ed Markey (R) rally in Boston, Massachusetts, June 12, 2013
US President Barack Obama waves to the crowd before delivering remarks at the Ed Markey (R) for US Senate rally in Boston, Massachusetts, June 12, 2013. Obama rallied voters Wednesday to elect fellow Democrats, defending the role of government as he faces

President Barack Obama rallied voters Wednesday to elect fellow Democrats, defending the role of government as he faces a series of high-profile controversies.

But even in Democrat-friendly Massachusetts, Republicans were eager to pounce on Obama's perceived vulnerabilities in his second term, amid revelations that the man who once cast himself as a defender of civil liberties has authorized a massive electronic surveillance program.

"Obama goes to MA today to 'help' Markey but his poll numbers are headed south following controversies," the Republican National Committee tweeted.

The president was back in campaign mode during a stop in a Boston suburb to stump for Representative Ed Markey, who is seeking the Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry became secretary of state.

"Every day I wake up, I ask three questions: How do I make America a magnet for good jobs? How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need for those jobs? How do we make sure those jobs are paying a decent living?" Obama told a crowd in Roxbury Crossing.

"When people say the whole problem is government, they don't understand government can help by establishing smart priorities, by making smart choices, by investing in American manufacturing so we're bringing more of our jobs back from overseas."

He also pointed to the government's role in education and keeping children safe from gun violence, months after lawmakers rejected a bill to expand background checks for gun buyers in the wake of a string of bloody tragedies in which firearms were involved.

The president later headed for campaign events in Miami Beach.

Although Obama's events were intended to fulfill a promise to campaign harder for Democrats in next year's mid-term elections, the controversies facing his administration threaten to make him less of an asset and more of a liability.

Even Democrats, including Markey, have criticized the government secret National Security Agency programs that dragnet a huge trove of phone records and Internet communications.

And Obama is also facing questions over the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service's inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the seizure of journalists' phone records and how his administration handled the US consulate attack in eastern Libya that killed four Americans last year.

The president hopes he can break the deadlock in Congress by sending more Democrats to the two chambers, and thus fulfill some of his campaign pledges on critical issues such as clinching a deal on the budget and immigration.

"What's holding us back right now is inaction in Washington, gridlock in Washington -- too many folks in Washington who are putting the next election ahead of the next generation," Obama said.

And, taking a combative tone, he attacked Republicans, who "think compromise is a dirty word."

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