‘I will not take no for an answer’

The White House doesn’t seem especially surprised by Senate Republicans blocking the American Jobs Act this week. Rather, President Obama and his team appear to be executing a p.r. strategy put in place well ahead of action on Capitol Hill, and making a concerted effort to take advantage of the political circumstances.

Here, for example, is a video Obama for America distributed to its list last night.

For those who can’t watch videos online, it’s a three-minute clip of the president, speaking to OFA supporters from the White House, about what’s transpired. Obama noted, for example, that Senate Republicans “blocked this jobs bill from moving forward,” even though it included measures Republicans have “supported in the past.”

The president added, “Now, a lot of folks in Washington and the media will look at last night’s vote and say, ‘Well, that’s it; the bill is dead. Let’s move on to the next fight.’ I’ve got news for them: not this time, not with so many Americans out of work, not with so many families struggling to get ahead. I will not take no for an answer, and I hope you won’t either.

“In the coming days we will force members of Congress to vote on the individual proposals in the American Jobs Act. They’ll have a chance to vote on whether they believe we should keep teachers out of work or whether we should put them back in the classroom where they belong. They’ll get to vote on whether they believe construction workers should stay unemployed while our roads and bridges fall apart, or whether we should put these men and women back to work rebuilding America. They’ll be forced to decide whether we should cut taxes for middle class Americans or let them go up next year. In fact, that’s exactly what one of the leading Republican Presidential candidates suggested we do during last night’s debate: allow taxes to rise by up to a thousand dollars next year for struggling middle class families.”

Mitt Romney, I think he’s talking about you.

Also note, Obama spoke at the White House Forum on American Latino Heritage yesterday, and pushed a nearly identical message as part of his remarks. Vice President Biden also appeared on all of the major morning talk shows on Wednesday “to make clear that the fight is not over.”

Those hoping the White House would have the good sense to follow through with an aggressive jobs message should be pleased. Indeed, Obama and his team clearly seem to believe they have a winning message here.

And I suspect they’re right. There are no downsides to having the president taking a high-profile role fighting for a popular jobs bill when unemployment is the nation’s highest priority. It’s also noteworthy that Obama’s message is becoming more partisan — “some in Congress” is out; “congressional Republicans” is in.

Will the efforts pay dividends? It’s hard to imagine the circumstances that would push GOP lawmakers into doing the right thing, though I suspect the White House knows this. Rather, the push is about positioning the president as the one in Washington championing job creation, and Republicans as the ones deliberately standing in the way. Given the larger political landscape, that’s probably the only smart move left.