ATHERTON, Calif. -- President Barack Obama courted well-heeled donors in California on a two-day Democratic fundraising jaunt that required him to walk a fine line: Berate Republicans too much, and Obama could put in jeopardy the fragile prospects for achieving his second-term goals.
The trip kicked off a concerted effort to help his party win back the House and keep its Senate majority next year. It's a mission that, if successful, would improve his playing field and help him secure his legacy during his final two years in office, a lame-duck period in which a president's influence quickly ebbs.
Obama struck a careful balance Thursday, telling donors at a luncheon in Silicon Valley that he would continue to reach out to Republicans to advance the interests of the middle class and those aspiring to join it.
"Having said that, though, there are still some really big arguments that we are having in Washington," Obama said. "And I believe that Democrats represent those values."
Obama's appearance at the lunch, where supporters paid $1,000 to attend or $5,000 for a photo with the president, capped a four-event fundraising blitz that started on Wednesday in San Francisco, where Obama raised $3.25 million.
The short-term pitfalls of the campaign effort are clear. Obama has spent much of the past month pursuing warmer relations with Republicans in Congress whose votes he needs to enact his agenda. Republicans on the receiving end of Obama's "charm offensive" say his partisan tone when he leaves Washington makes them question his sincerity when he says he's willing to meet Republicans halfway.
"He's doing a pretty lousy job of it," Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party, said in an interview. "If he was someone who was as conciliatory as he proclaims to be, you would think he would have a few decent relationships with Republicans, but he doesn't. Instead, he spends most of his time campaigning."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, "The president's appeal to his supporters won't interfere with his continued efforts to work with Republicans to move that agenda through the Congress."