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Don’t lose your nerve, Obama tells under-pressure Democrats

President Barack Obama last night implored Senate Democrats to stay aggressive in pushing through their agenda despite the loss of one vital seat, saying: “We still have to lead.”

Obama sharpened his challenge to Republicans in an attempt to put an emboldened opposition on the spot, warning: “We'll call them out when they say they want to work with us, and we extend a hand and get a fist in return.”

Speaking to his party's senators at their strategy conference, Obama reminded Democrats they still hold a 59-41 majority, one shy of the 60 needed to overcome Republican delaying tactics.

Democrats lost a “super majority” when Republican Scott Brown won in a special election upset in Massachusetts.

The loss of this seat, held for decades by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, dealt a severe blow to Obama and the Democrats.

Democrats now want to focus on getting jobs for Americans and other economic issues that resonate with voters in an attempt to avoid possibly losing control of Congress in November elections.

Obama said that for Democrats searching for a lesson from the Massachusetts election, “the answer is not to do nothing”.

“The American people are out of patience with business as usual,” he said.

Obama urged Democrats to push legislation that, above all else, will help people get jobs. He encouraged them to avoid the temptation to “tread lightly, keep your head down and play it safe”.

He used particularly harsh language towards Republicans, part of a strategy to be more combative with the opposition party.

He chided Republican senators for, in his view, trying to gum up the works and routinely using the filibuster delaying tactic.

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