President Barack Obama had sharp words for Rep. Darrell Issa Sunday night, contending the Vista Republican’s “primary contribution to the United States Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere.”
Obama’s comments came at a La Jolla event to raise money for Democratic congressional candidates. Among those in attendance was Doug Applegate, who’s in a close race with Issa.
Issa, when he was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led investigations into the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, the bungled “Fast and Furious” gun trading-operation and how it handled the attack in Benghazi.
“This is now a guy,” Obama said of Issa, “who because poll numbers are bad has sent out brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me. That is the definition of chutzpah.
“Here’s a guy who called my administration perhaps the most corrupt in history — despite the fact that actually we have not had a major scandal in my administration.”
In a statement Sunday night, Issa said: “I’m disappointed but not surprised that the president in a political speech continues to deny accountability for the serious scandals that happened under his watch where Americans died overseas and veterans have died here at home.”
President Barack Obama arrives in San Diego to attend a fundraiser
“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks I’ve done too much to hold Washington accountable. I’ve worked with the administration on good legislation where it was possible, and called out wrongdoing wherever I saw it, and will continue to do so.”
Obama indirectly reminded people at the fundraiser that Issa continues to back Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump
“This guy has spent all his time simply trying to obstruct, to feed the same sentiments that resulted in Donald Trump becoming their nominee,” Obama said.
Earlier in his talk, Obama went through the familiar list of achievements on his watch, including turning the economy around, fighting climate change, bringing troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan, countering the Islamic State, and passing the Affordable Care Act.
“Across almost every economic index, we are better off than where we were, by a long shot,” Obama said.
He also emphasized how his accomplishments were in large part possible because of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who attended the fundraiser, when she was speaker.
“A lot of this got done because in the first two years, when really the template for our economy, and our foreign policy was being formed, at that moment where the well-being of this country was teetering, I had a congressional majority that was able to deliver, that was willing to take tough votes,” Obama said.
“After Nancy Pelosi was no longer speaker, Congress essentially shut down,” he later added.
The event to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was at the home of Christine Forester, an architect and early supporter of Obama’s first White House bid, who served as vice chair of his national finance committee.
The tickets to the fundraiser were $10,000 or more, per person. There were about 65 guests, including Reps. Scott Peters and Susan Davis, both San Diego Democrats. Peters also was among those who greeted Obama when he landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Air Force One shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday.
The president is scheduled to attend a Hillary Victory Fund event in San Diego this morning before going to Los Angeles.
Obama in recent weeks has crisscrossed the country rallying supporters for Clinton as well as House and Senate candidates.
Obama’s standing in the polls has made him a popular surrogate for congressional candidates hoping that a decisive Clinton victory will benefit them as well. The White House has said that Obama’s primary mission in the next two weeks will be helping Clinton, but he will also use his appearances at campaign events and in television ads to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, even in some state legislative races.
Earlier Sunday, Obama campaigned in Las Vegas where he urged supporters to get out to the polls and back the state’s former attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto, who is vying for the seat being vacated by her mentor, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Obama castigated her opponent, Rep. Joe Heck, for his past support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Heck has withdrawn his backing of Trump.
"When they finally get [Trump] on tape, bragging about actions that qualify as sexual assault ... suddenly that's a deal breaker," said Obama, noting Heck's comments from the summer in which he attested to having "high hopes" Trump would become president
"What the heck,” he added in a word play on the Republican's last name, drawing chants of “what the Heck” from those packed inside a high school gymnasium here.
An average of several polls in Nevada shows Cortez Masto leading Heck by about 2 percentage points.
Kurtis Lee of the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.