President Barack Obama acknowledged Wednesday that the US public remained "angry" and "frustrated" with the state of the country, one year after his historic inauguration and one day after a shock electoral defeat for his fellow Democrats.
Speaking in the wake of a massive upset victory Tuesday for a Republican Senate candidate in left-leaning Massachusetts, Obama told US broadcaster ABC that Washington had to do a better job of connecting with the wider public.
"The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," Obama said, according to excerpts of an interview released by ABC. "People are angry and they’re frustrated, not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years but what’s happened over the last eight years."
Republican Scott Brown stunned the political establishment Tuesday night by winning a special election to replace long-time Democratic senator Edward M. Kennedy, throwing planned health care reforms and the rest of Obama’s domestic legislative agenda into disarray.
Brown will become the 41st Republican member of the 100-member Senate, robbing Democrats of a 60-vote super-majority that allowed them to overcome opposition filibusters, a procedural hurdle that can effectively block legislation from passing the chamber.
The victory will force Obama’s Democrats to seek at least some Republican support for his agenda, which proved near impossible during much of Obama’s first year.
Obama flatly rejected suggestions that Democrats should attempt to pass health care legislation before Brown, who opposes the reforms, can take up his seat in the Senate. The House of Representatives and Senate are in the process of melding two rival versions of the health bill, but may scupper the effort because of Tuesday’s poll.
"The senate certainly shouldn’t try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated," Obama said. "The people of Massachusetts spoke, he’s gotta be part of that process."