Members of the Illinois legislature praised President Barack Obama for his speech at the Capitol Wednesday, which acknowledged a “poisonous political climate" and encouraged unity and bipartisanship.
“We’ve always gone through periods when our democracy seems stuck, and when that happens we have to find a new way of doing business,” Obama said. “We’re in one of those moments. We have to build a better politics.”
During his speech, Obama said making bipartisan compromises “doesn’t make me a sell out to my own party.” He then turned to Rep. Ken Dunkin and said, “We’ll talk later, Dunkin. Sit down.”
Dunkin, a democrat, has recently come under fire after forging an alliance with Gov. Rauner.
“I was honored that President Obama affirmed my decision to find a compromise to bring people together,” Dunkin told Ward Room. “As the President noted, our problems are not new and compromise is not a sign of weakness, but necessary for self-government.”
Dunkin also told Ward Room that he has been invited to visit the White House on March 17.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Christine Radogno, who has also sided with Gov. Bruce Rauner during the state’s historic budget stalemate, responded positively to Obama’s visit.
“Despite political differences, it really is cool to know the most powerful man in the world,” Radogno said. “The President visited with those members who served with him in the State Senate during his visit to Springfield today.”
Senate President John Cullerton also spoke fondly of Obama.
“He has challenged each and every one of us to be the solution, to rise above rhetoric, refuse to be so easily divided and recognize avenues for agreement even among those who disagree,” Cullerton said in a statement.
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford praised the the tone and message of the president’s speech.
“To move passed [sic] the gridlock, we have to defy the pervasive narrative that we cannot work together or that political interests are outweighing the interests of the people,” Lightford said in a statement. “Our leaders need to come together with a fresh outlook and a grounded understanding of the consequences of their motivations and actions.”
Obama explained that his passion for politics has not diminished as he approaches the end of his political career.
“The point I’m trying to make is I care about fixing our politics,” Obama said. “The reason this is important to me? Next year I’ll still hold the most important title of all, citizen.”