Obama: 'We Weren't Sent Here to Wage Perpetual Political Campaigns'

VIDEO: The president urges the nation to speak up and end gridlock in Washington.

After three days on the road selling his State of the Union message, President Obama is urging Congress to act on his proposals to stem the "corrosive influence of money in politics" and to give judicial and public service nominations "up-or-down" votes.

As he traveled through Iowa, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Michigan this week, the president said he met people who believe in America but are skeptical that progress can be made in Washington.

"Frankly, when you look at some of the things that go on in this town, who could blame them for being a little cynical?" Obama said in his weekly address.

The president called out Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, for vowing to block any nominations he makes this year. Still fuming over Obama's decision to sidestep the Senate and appoint Richard Cordray to lead the new consumer watchdog agency, Lee said the president should rescind his recess appointments.

"This isn't about me," Obama said. "We weren't sent here to wage perpetual political campaigns against each other.  We were sent here to serve the American people.  And they deserve better than gridlock and games. One senator gumming up the whole works for the entire country is certainly not what our founding fathers envisioned."

"The truth is, neither party has been blameless in tactics like these. But it's time for both parties to put an end to them," he said. "I'm asking Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, to stop this kind of behavior by passing a rule that allows all judicial and public service nominations a simple up-or-down vote within 90 days."

Repeating a call he made in his State of the Union address, the president also asked lawmakers to send him a bill that limits the influence of money in politics.

"The House and Senate should send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it immediately," he said. "They should limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact.  And they should make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa."

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