Working to invigorate one of his most important constituencies, President Barack Obama urged major Democratic donors Wednesday to hang on to the enthusiasm they felt during his first run for the White House as his 2012 re-election campaign approaches.
"The first time around it's like lightning in a bottle. There's something special about it, because you're defying the odds. And as time passes, you start taking it for granted that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama is president of the United States," Obama said. "But we should never take it for granted."
"I hope that all of you still feel that sense of excitement and that sense of possibility, because we still have so much more to do."
Obama made his remarks to about 500 members of the Democratic National Committee's national finance committee and national advisory board at a Washington hotel. These major donors will play a crucial role in the money race for the 2012, which looks to be even more high-spending than in the past in part because of a Supreme Court decision removing limits on donations from corporations, unions and others.
Obama raised a whopping $750 million for his 2008 presidential bid. His re-election campaign could raise in excess of $1 billion.
The president also tried out his new theme of nonpartisan compromise and coming together, a change from the partisan attacks he regularly lobbed at Republicans prior to the November midterm elections in which Democrats lost control of the House. Now Obama must work with Republicans if he wants to get anything done, from passing a budget to legislating in any arena.
"I know that sometimes people may get frustrated and think, you know what, Obama is being too nice and we need to get in there and take it to them. And there will be times where that's important," the president said, adding that his own wife sometimes had to turn away from the spectacle of political brawling.
"Politics in this country can be tough. And I'm sure that some of you are like Michelle and at some point had to just stop watching cable TV because it was getting too frustrating," Obama said.
But he added: "As important as our political labels are _ Democrat and Republican _ as many tough fights as we're going to have, part of what made 2008 special is we brought the country together."
Even as Obama said more remained to be done, he asserted that he'd delivered on his campaign pledge from 2008. "The promise that we made to the American people has been kept, that we have delivered on change that we can believe in."