“As Congress begins picking through President Obama’s vast election year budget, many Democratic incumbents and candidates seem to be finding something they love — to campaign against…

“Heading into an election season in which Republicans are trying to tie Democrats to Obama’s unpopular policies, Obama’s budget gives his fellow Democrats an unlikely campaign tool — a catalogue of ways to establish their distance from controversial aspects of his administration.”

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“[O]nce the president left and reporters were escorted out of the room, senators pressed White House officials about healthcare reform, according to those at the meeting.

“Democrats expressed their frustration with the lack of a clear plan for passing healthcare reform, according to one person in the room.

“One Democratic senator even grew heated in his remarks, according to the source.

“‘It wasn’t a discussion about how to get from Point A to Point B; it was a discussion about the lack of a plan to get from Point A to Point B,’ said a person who attended the meeting. ‘Many of the members were frustrated, but one person really expressed his frustration.'”

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“It is a tough sell for any president who lives inside what Obama refers to as ‘the bubble,’ but tougher still for Obama. His first year in office was defined in part by a paradox. He is a rare president who comes from the middle class, yet people still perceive him as disconnected from it. As he arrived in Nashua, nearly two-thirds of Americans believed that his economic policies had hurt the country or made no difference at all; almost half thought he did not understand their problems…

“[D]uring his campaign for the presidency, Obama bungled some of his early attempts to connect with blue-collar workers, complaining about the price of arugula at Whole Foods and visiting a bowling alley only to roll an embarrassing score of 37. Some political rivals continue to disparage him as an elitist. Even his aides have sometimes worried that his intellect can be mistaken for condescension and that his composure can seem like detachment.

“At 3:30 p.m., less than three hours after he landed in New Hampshire, Obama peeled away from the crowd, pointing apologetically at a cadre of aides and Secret Service agents who were suggesting it was time to go. The moment for direct connection had passed. Now it was back to the motorcade, onto his 166th flight aboard Air Force One and off to the White House — back to a life apart.”

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“President Barack Obama implored Senate Democrats on Wednesday to stay aggressive in pushing their agenda despite the loss of one vital seat, saying: ‘We still have to lead.’…

“The session came as part of broad outreach by Obama – to his party, his political opposition and a disgruntled public – as he seeks to get his agenda back on track…

“Obama used the same language toward Republicans as he did toward extremists in the Muslim world in his inaugural address. Of Republicans on Wednesday, he said, ‘We extend a hand and get a fist in return.’ In his inaugural address, he said the United States ‘will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.'”