Senate Democrats who were feeling nervous about their chances of keeping their majority got a boost from President Obama when he invited them to the White House for drinks and a pep talk.
Unlike previous meetings with Senate Democrats that had been rigid and formal, this time the event was more relaxed and featured more interaction.
The Hill reported:
Unlike the last time the president hosted a reception for Democratic senators, he served them drinks and food as soon as they arrived instead of making his guests first sit through a formal question-and-answer session.
One Democratic senator said someone “must have said something” to Obama about the arrangement last year because this time the drinks and “nibbles” were available from the start.
Also, Obama did away with the rows of chairs and mingled with the lawmakers. He spoke on a microphone while they gathered around him in the East Room.
“This time as soon as we walked in we had drinks, we had food, we had all that first and it was good. And then Obama came in and rather than having us sit we just stood around,” said the source. “It was a much better format than that formal thing before. You get the drinks first, you know?”
“It was very nice, there were a couple of hors d’oeuvres and everybody was able to get a drink whether it was wine or Coke or whatever,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “It was a good opportunity to listen. I actually think the important thing we need to do much more is more personal interactions rather than speeches
President Obama has often been criticized by congressional Democrats for being sort of cold and distant from them. It was a smart move to change the meeting structure because it not only boosted the morale of Senate Democrats, but it is also good for the president to interact with members of Congress on a more informal level.
The Democratic senators felt good because they got to talk directly to the president, and it was good for the president to hear what the senators had to say in a less filtered environment. As the leader of the Democratic Party, Obama needs sometimes to be the motivator in chief. Getting people fired up isn’t limited to voters. The president also needs the help of Democrats in the House and Senate.
Yesterday’s meeting was a part of what I like to call the have a Coke and smile strategy. The Democratic Party leadership has always come from the top. (This is a leftover habit from the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.) It seems petty that some of the most powerful people in the world can have the morale boosted by something as simple as finger snacks and drinks, but senators are people too. It seems that even though the sunset is approaching on his time in office, President Obama is still learning different ways to lead.