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Obama Ducks Responsibility for Democrats' Election Defeat

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Speaking one day after the Republicans took the Senate majority away from the Democrats, President Barack Obama declined to acknowledge that his own unpopularity may have played a role.

"I don’t want to try to read the tea leaves on election results," Obama told reporters in a White House news conference. "What I am going to try to do as president is to make sure that I am advancing what I think is best for the country."

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama conceded that the GOP "had a good night," though shied away from using any buzzword like "shellacking," which he used after Democrats lost control of the House during his first midterms in 2010.

Asked about Democrats who didn't want to appear on the campaign trail with him, Obama said he was "practical."

"I love campaigning," Obama said. "I’m also a practical guy, and ultimately every candidate out there had to make their own decisions about what they thought would be most helpful for them."

He said is "open to working with" the new majority on issues where there could be common ground, but also said flatly that there will be some things that cannot be bridged.

“Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign; I will take some action Congress will not like,” Obama said. “But we can work together on issues broad appeal to American people.”

Obama said he spoke with both House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and congratulated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is widely presumed to become majority leader.

“He has always been straightforward with me,” Obama said of McConnell. “To his credit, he never promised anything he couldn’t deliver. He knows the legislative process. He knows his caucus. I think we can have a productive relationship.”

He also cracked that he “would enjoy having a Kentucky bourbon" with McConnell.

“The American people sent a message … they want us to get the job done,” Obama said.

Obama said that over the next two years, he is interested in working with Republicans on a possible tax reform proposal that would cut loopholes, while lowering rates and proposals to increase exports.

Obama was less specific on other issues such as, the Keystone XL pipeline or possible changes to the Affordable Care Act, which he said he would have to evaluate, though he rejected out of hand the idea of repealing the health care law entirely.

Obama said democracy is “messy” and “diverse” but told reporters: “It doesn’t make me mopey, it makes me energized."

One last thing…
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