Offering a preview of his State of the Union address, President Obama today sought to rally House Democrats behind his second-term agenda and legislative priorities, including immigration reform, gun control and tackling the deficit.
"The bottom line is this, people - we've got a lot of work to do," the president said at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Leesburg, Va. "What I've learned over the last four years is that it won't be smooth; it won't be simple. There will be frustrations. There will be times when you guys are mad at me…. But as long as we keep in mind why we came here in the first place…. I have no doubt that we will continue the extraordinary progress that we've made already."
The president cautioned against "reading too much into any particular political victory."
"This country is big, it is diverse, it is contentious, and we don't have a monopoly on wisdom, and we need to remember that…. It's also important for us to feel confident and bold about the values we care about and what we stand for," he said.
With the State of the Union less than a week away, Obama outlined a laundry list of priorities that he plans to address.
"I'm going to be talking about making sure that we're focused on job creation here in the United States of America. It means that we're focused on education and that every young person is equipped with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century. It means that we've got an energy agenda that can make us less dependent on foreign oil, but also that we're cultivating the kind of clean energy strategy that will maintain our leadership well into the future," he said.
"It means that we're going to talk about, yes, deficits and taxes and sequesters and potential government shutdowns and debt ceiling - we'll talk about that stuff, but all from the perspective of how are we making sure that somebody who works hard in this country - a cop, or a teacher, or a construction worker, or a receptionist - that they can make it if they work hard, and that their kids can make it and dream even bigger dreams than they have achieved," he said.
Obama "called an audible" at the top of his speech, announcing he would take questions after his brief remarks. The press, however, was escorted out before that session began.