Obama says Democratic presidential candidates are optimistic

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama makes a "grumpy cat" face as he compared Republicans to the sad Internet cat while speaking to the Democratic National Committee 22nd Annual Women's Leadership Forum National Issues Conference in Washington, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is trying to portray his party’s presidential aspirants as optimistic and civil, while accusing the GOP’s presidential candidates of being glum and divisive.

Speaking to about 500 supporters Friday, Obama said Democrats have an optimistic vision about where the country can go. He said he was proud of last week’s debate among the presidential candidates.

“It was logical and civil, and people didn’t agree with everything, but they weren’t just saying crazy stuff,” he said. “And they weren’t dividing the country into us and them and tapping into people’s worst impulses.”

At one point, Obama described the GOP candidates as being “Grumpy Cat,” and he tried to imitate the Internet sensation’s grumpy facial expression. “Everything is terrible, according to them,” Obama said to laughter.

Republicans have had a different take on last week’s debate, with party leaders pointing out that front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton referred to Republicans as among the enemies she’s most proud of.

Vice President Joe Biden also took issue with Clinton’s remark about Republicans. “The other team is not the enemy,” Biden said.

Obama teasingly told the crowd at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum that he’ll support whomever the party’s nominee is, but didn’t go any further before the audience’s reaction prompted him to break into a smile and add, “What are you laughing about?”

Obama also sought to place blame for a possible government shutdown on Republican lawmakers. He is insisting that GOP lawmakers agree on spending increases for defense and nondefense programs before he’ll sign into law a spending bill for the current fiscal year.

He seized on the tactics of some GOP lawmakers who want to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an agreement on the budget. He said Congress should focus on investing in schools, rebuilding the nation’s gaining infrastructure and investing in research.

“We should not even be thinking about something as ridiculous as shutting down our government over Planned Parenthood,” he said.

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