President Obama earlier today in at the University of Richmond—located right inside Eric Cantor's congressional district:
I'm asking you to lift up your voices, not just here in Richmond—anybody watching, listening, following online, I want you to call, I want to email, I want you to Tweet. I want you to Fax, I want you to visit, I want you to Facebook. Send a carrier pigeon.
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. Pass this bill!
If you want construction workers on the work site, pass this bill. If you want teachers in the classroom, pass this bill. If you want small business owners to hire new people, pass this bill. If you veterans to get their share of opportunity that they helped create, pass this bill. If you want a tax break, pass this bill.
Prove you will fight as hard for tax cuts for workers and middle-class people as you do for oil companies and rich folks. Pass this bill! Let's get something done.
The White House isn't publicly admitting that today's venue selection had anything to do with Cantor, but it obviously wasn't a coincidence. And based on Cantor's reaction—asking Obama to not take his message directly to the public—it seems like it got under his skin. And that, of course, is the point. The only way we're going to get Republicans to take action is if they fear that they could lose their own jobs next November.
Cantor has tried to sound reasonable, saying Republicans would be willing to consider elements of the American Jobs Act and even might approve components of the package on a piecemeal basis. The White House, however, is rejecting that approach. Greg Sargent:
Yesterday, after the President finished up his speech last night, House Republicans responded by signaling an openness to passing parts of Obama’s new jobs bill, while signaling disapproval of Obama’s vow to barnstorm the country to get the American Jobs Act passed in its current form.
“The message was: either accept my package as it is, or I will take it to the American people,” Eric Cantor said. “I would say that that’s the wrong approach.”
Today, the White House offered its answer: Sorry, we want the whole bill passed. Nothing less.
As Greg points out, the White House appears to believe they've turned the tables on the GOP, putting Republicans in a position where they must either act or accept responsibility for failing to act. But as President Obama made clear last night and today, they do not think they can do it without help from the American public. And the flip side of that is equally true: we cannot do it without the President.