RICHMOND, Va. – President Obama delivered an impassioned call to action to his supporters nationwide this afternoon, telling them in a speech at the University of Richmond to “call, email, tweet, fax, visit, Facebook, send a carrier pigeon” to their members of Congress to urge passage of his latest jobs plan.
“I want you to tell your congressperson the time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now. The time to create jobs is now,” he said. “Pass this bill.”
Obama’s address before an energetic crowd of 8,900 college students and volunteers laid out in broad strokes his $447 billion proposal to put more people back to work and money in consumers’ pockets. It also had the distinct feel of a campaign stump speech, infused with a sense of urgency and eagerness to reclaim control of the narrative on jobs and the economy.
“This has been a long slog dealing with this economy,” Obama said. “I know that when I came into office, everybody was thinking, ‘Well, you know six months we’ll get this all solved,’ but I told you at the time — I told you at the time — this was going to be a tough long journey, and I also told you I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Taking a page from his playbook during the debt ceiling debate, Obama said he’s optimistic that elements of his plan would win bipartisan support – but only if supporters raised their voices and flood lawmakers’ inboxes and answering machines with their opinions.
“Every single one of these proposals has been supported by Democrats and Republicans before, and so they should be supporting them now,” he said. “That will only happen though, that will only happen though if they set politics aside for a moment to deal with America’s problems. And the only way they’re going to do that is if they hear from you.”
Though not mentioning him by name, Obama also gave a nod to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, whose district encompasses parts of Richmond and who was also to hold a jobs event in his district this afternoon.
“To their credit, I was glad to hear some Republicans, including your congressman, say that they’ve got – they see room for us to work together, they said they’re open to some of the proposals to create American jobs,” Obama said.
Cantor told ABC News on Thursday night as he was leaving the House floor following the president’s speech that there are “certainly plenty of policies” in the Obama jobs plan that “we can work together on and get done.”
“I think that some of the small business tax relief measures that the president talked about are things that we could probably embrace,” Cantor said. “We have our own small business tax relief measure that we have put in our plan. These are the areas that we can work on and I think find common ground fairly quickly.”
But he signaled Obama could be in for a political fight over elements of the American Jobs Act that Republicans won’t like.
“It’s not all or nothing. It’s not that way in life. It’s not that way here in Washington,” Cantor said. “The people want results.”