After hiatus, Obama returns to campaign mode in NY

After hiatus, Obama returns to campaign mode in NY

NEW YORK (AP) — Regrouping with Democrats after a bitter fiscal fight, President Barack Obama on Friday cast the recent spending-and-debt standoff with Congress as "a symptom of a larger challenge" but one offering Democrats the chance to show voters the virtues of their vision for government ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.

After putting politics on hold as a showdown with Congress forced the government to shut down, Obama launched a six-week burst of fundraising for Democrats with a pair of top-dollar events in New York.

He told donors that the impasse, at its core, was "a symptom of a larger challenge," exposing how American politics, with its intense focus on ideology, have become detached from the problems ordinary Americans face.

"The shutdown was about more than just health care," Obama told about 60 donors at a fundraiser for House Democrats. "It was about a contrast of visions, about what our obligations are to each other as fellow citizens."

"And we've got the better side of that argument," Obama added.

Reflecting on the 16-day shutdown a week after it ended, Obama offered the first glimpse at how he and Democrats will seek to frame the crisis in the minds of donors and voters ahead of next year's pivotal elections. He portrayed the crisis as an opportunity for Democrats to unite behind a vision of broad-based prosperity, where the government has a hand in giving people the tools to succeed.

"We believe that government has a role to play," Obama said.

Traditionally the president is a party's most potent fundraising tool, and the effort isn't without potential reward for Obama. A return of Congress to full Democratic control next year would open the door to sweeping policies Obama would love to enact but Republicans refuse to consider.