PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) — President Barack Obama blamed dysfunction in Congress on a Republican Party he said is captive to an ideologically rigid, unproductive and cynical faction, as he urged like-minded Democrats on Friday to show up for November's midterm elections.
Addressing Democratic donors at a barbeque outside New York City, Obama said Republicans had realized that blocking all progress led Americans to become cynical about government. Republicans consider that "a pretty good thing" because they don't believe in government to begin with, Obama said.
"It doesn't have to be that way," Obama said. "There has been a certain cynical genius to what some of these folks have done in Washington."
About 250 people paid up to $32,400 to attend the pre-Labor Day fundraiser at the home of Wall Street consultant Robert Wolf, an Obama fundraiser who has served on White House advisory board and also plays golf with the president. Reflecting on challenges in the U.S. and abroad, Obama challenged Democrats to remain engaged in the upcoming elections, arguing that he needs a Congress willing to work with him to be able to confront the troubles people are facing.
"If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart," Obama said, referring to crises from the Middle East to Europe. "The good news is that American leaderships has never been more necessary."
Obama's two fundraisers in New York on Friday benefited the Democratic National Committee, which is still paying off debt from 2012. Later Friday, Obama was to join House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi in Newport, Rhode Island, for a third fundraiser benefiting the fundraising arm for House Democrats.
In a last-minute change, Obama was to return to the White House late Friday, interrupting his weekend trip. He had originally planned to overnight in New York before heading on Saturday to the wedding of Sam Kass, Obama's personal chef, to MSNBC host Alex Wagner. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama himself made the decision to return to the White House and that it was unrelated to any current events.
"He can sleep in his own bed, do a little work tomorrow, spend some time with his family," Earnest said. Obama now plans to travel back to Westchester County in New York on Saturday afternoon to attend the private event.
The trips come as Obama considers how to respond to the Islamic State terrorist threat and Russia's apparent invasion of Ukraine.