WASHINGTON — President Obama may have run his last campaign, but he told nervous Democrats on Capitol Hill Wednesday that doesn't mean he's off the trail for good.
Obama travelled to the Capitol to meet with members of the Democratic caucus ahead of Congress' long August recess, when the president and his allies hope to create a grassroots push for the president's policy goals like immigration reform and what is being called his "grand bargain for the middle class." Some Democrats seem worried the president's requests will only go one way, and that he'll leave them high and dry when it comes to campaign season. According to participants in the meeting, Obama sought to reassure Democrats worried about their reelection prospects that they won't go it alone next year.
"There was a political question to the president from one of our more vulnerable members and the question was simply: when you said you fought your last campaign please tell us you'll be there for us in 2014," Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut told BuzzFeed after Obama's meeting with House Democrats. "And he said I fought my last campaign, but I'm there for you."
The White House has been vague about Obama's specific August plans, saying only that there will be more economic speeches along the lines of the two he's made in recent days at stops across the country. Organizing For Action, the spin-off of Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, has promised a tea party-like grassroots effort to lobby members of Congress to support the president's agenda at town hall meetings.
Conservative groups have their own August plans, though they're less unified than the Democrats'. Some conservative groups plan to use the recess to push House Republicans to pass an immigration reform bill, while others plan to use town halls in August to squash reform momentum in Washington.
Conservatives also hope to repeat their focus on Obamacare from 2009, albeit with a intraparty split: some conservatives are pushing Republicans to sign a pledge vowing to shut the government down if the health care law is not defunded, while other conservatives are trying hard to scuttle the plan before the August recess begins.
House Democrats who met with the president Wednesday said a focus of the meeting was getting House members on the same page and ready to talk about his economic plans through the hot weeks in August with one voice.
"People were trying to understand his case so they could make the case better," Rep. John Delaney of Maryland said. "Some of it was very broad like tax reform and investing in infrastructure, what does that mean? So it was people trying to understand so they could explain it to their constituents."
Obama was tight-lipped about the discussions as he left the Capitol meetings.
"Jobs. Middle class. Growth," was all he'd tell reporters shouting questions about what went on behind closed doors.