Reporting Jay Levine
CHICAGO (CBS) – President Barack Obama returned to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, for the first time since his stunning Election Day victory earned him four more years in office.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, with the election now behind him, the president has plenty on his plate for his next term.
For the Obama White House, winning re-election was kind of like jumping out of the frying pan, and into the fire; or be careful what you wish for. We could go on with the clichés till the cows come home, but you get the idea.
In his victory speech early Wednesday morning, after Republican Mitt Romney publicly conceded the race, Obama said, “the best is yet to come” for the country.
But as the President raced daughter Sasha up the stairs to Air Force One on Wednesday as the first family left Chicago, the president was facing the grim reality of the challenge he now faces, which might be even greater than it was four years ago.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said, “We need to come together on a bipartisan basis for the good of this country.”
Asked how that would happen after years of partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, Durbin said, “Well, we’ve got a fiscal cliff coming. It’s pretty awful, and it may force our hand into doing something we haven’t done before. I hope it does.”
Peoria Republican Congressman Aaron Schock said it’s the President who is now in a position to bring people together.
“The president’s not gonna be running for re-election, he’s not gonna have to worry about fundraising, or giving speeches to rile up the base,” Schock said.
Sources said Obama already has called congressional leaders, and pledged to work with them to reduce the deficit, to cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses, and to create jobs.
On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner pledged to work towards bipartisan solutions to the nation’s economic problems.
“For this to work we need to plan for a serious process; focused on substance, not on theatrics. It will require weeks of work, rather than a weekend of photo-ops,” Boehner said. “It won’t happen around a campfire at Camp David, or in a secret room at some Air Force Base, or – as much as I’d like – over 18 holes of golf. I think this is going to take time, but if we’re all striving for a solution, I’m confident that we can get there.”
But Boehner’s implied command, “let’s get serious” works both ways.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, said, “I think, if you want to talk about division, the Republican Party’s divided from the Republican Party. The country’s not divided, the Republican Party is divided, and I think the Republicans now have to look and say ‘Okay, Mr. President, you’re the president, the voters have spoken, elections have meaning, and anybody — at their own peril — ignores what the public says; political peril.’”
So, between Republicans pressured by voters and the President’s pressure relieved by re-election, there could be – to get back to clichés – some light at the end of this tunnel.