WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Reaching out to Republicans was meant to get crossover votes quickly but also to build trust over time, U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday.
Naming three Republicans to Cabinet posts and meeting with congressional Republicans to discuss the economic stimulus plan "were not designed simply to get some short-term votes. They were designed to try to build up some trust over time," Obama said during his first prime-time news conference as president.
Obama said he doesn't think he or the American people underestimated how entrenched partisan politics has become in Washington.
"They understand that there have been a lot of bad habits built up here in Washington," Obama said, "and it's going to take time to break down some of those bad habits."
The bottom line, he said, is "right now, I can't afford to see Congress play the usual political games" in light of a swooning U.S. economy.
"What we have to do right now is deliver for the American people," he said.
He had harsh words for Republican critics who said the $800 billion-plus economic stimulus package working its way through Congress was irresponsible.
"(When) I hear that from folks who presided over a doubling of the national debt, then, you know, I just want them to not engage in some revisionist history," he said. "I inherited the deficit that we have right now and the economic crisis that we have right now."
Members of both parties must work together, not necessarily agree, to get the economy moving again, he said.
"And what I've tried to suggest is that this is one of those times where we've got to put that kind of (partisan) behavior aside, because the American people can't afford it," he said.