Obama: "They Talk About Me Like a Dog"

CBS

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

President Obama employed dramatic language over the weekend to mobilize a listless Democratic base and cast Republicans as special interest shills standing in the way of economic recovery.

At the Milwaukee Laborfest in Milwaukee, Wisc., the president promoted a plan for $50 billion jobs initiative. His administration, Mr. Obama said, has been focused on strengthening the American middle class, in spite of strong corporate opposition.

Rebuilding the middle class, he said, has "meant taking on some powerful interests -- some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time."

"And they're not always happy with me," Mr. Obama added. "They talk about me like a dog. That's not in my prepared remarks, it's just -- but it's true."

It was not entirely clear what the president meant by "like a dog." Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin commented that his remark seemed "like something that would come from a politician exhausted by marathon campaigning and beaten down by the opposition," as opposed to the leader of the party in power.

Indeed, the president has taken a beating from the opposition. Even though independent observers typically say Mr. Obama's economic stimulus package saved millions of jobs, the unemployment rate remains close to 10 percent. Republicans are hammering Mr. Obama and his party for this, and polls show voters dissatisfied with Democratic leadership.

While polls have shown the Democratic base is unenthusiastic about this November, the audience estimated to be about 10,000 by the White House at the labor union event responded with cheers to Mr. Obama's "dog" remark. He took a combative, campaign-like tone through much of his speech, using many of the same lines he delivers at Democratic fundraising events.

"I'm going to keep fighting, every single day, every single hour, every single minute, to turn this economy around; to put people back to work; to renew the American Dream for your families and for future generations," the president said.

Using a metaphor he has employed a number of times before, Mr. Obama said Republicans "drove our economy into a ditch... And then they got the nerve to ask for the keys back!"

He added, "They'd have those special interests riding shotgun, then they'd hit the gas and we'd be right back in the ditch."

Update: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today he had not spoken with Mr. Obama about the "dog" remark. He added, however, "If you look at some of what is said about the president and match them up against the facts, on occasion dogs get better representation."

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