Feb 6 12:52 PM US/Eastern
President Barack Obama vowed Saturday to beat a "blizzard" of opposition and to salvage his crusade for change, leaving a snow-buried White House to rally Democrats spooked by looming November polls.
Obama motorcaded through deserted Washington streets during a historic winter storm to fire up a party rocked by panic and disaffection after the president's reform drive hit a roadblock after just a year in power.
"(It's) good to be among friends. So committed to the future of this party and this country ... a blizzard ... Snowmageddon here in DC!" Obama told Democratic National Committee members hunkered down in a Washington hotel.
Obama sharply warned that he would not give up on his effort to pass health care reform through Congress, even though the loss of the Democratic Senate supermajority leaves his wavering party few easy options to enact it.
"Just in case there's any confusion out there, let me be clear. I am not going to walk away from health insurance reform," Obama said, in one of his most feisty speeches since his 2008 election campaign.
"I'm not going to walk away from the American people. I'm not going to walk away on this challenge. I'm not going to walk away on any challenge.'
On Friday, Obama admitted health care reform could die in Congress, and warned Democrats they would face the judgement of voters in November's mid-term congressional polls if they quit the fight on his top priority issue.
The remarks were seen by some observers as a sign that Obama was contemplating admitting defeat on health care, a view his comments on Saturday seemed to be designed to dispel.
The president argued that to pass health care, and other top agenda issues, he and his party would have to change the poisoned political culture in the US capital, and by implication, win some Republican support for his initiatives.
"We're going to have to change the prevailing politics in this town.
"We may be moving forward against the prevailing winds. Sometimes it may be against a blizzard. But we're going to live up to our responsibility to lead."
It remains unclear however if Republicans will see any political advantage in working with Obama, considering a revival in their political fortunes has been based on blanket opposition to his agenda.