(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama said he's "reasonably confident" that a bipartisan immigration bill will pass Congress. But that was before the Senate shot down the bipartisan gun bill for which he lobbied so hard.
In an interview recorded on Monday, but which aired Thursday on NBC's "Today" show, Obama was asked how confident he is that he'll get an immigration bill by the end of summer:
"You know, I'm actually reasonably confident on this one. I think that you've seen great work on a bipartisan basis between Democratic and Republican senators. So if you take that package together, one that's supported by labor, that's supported by business, that's supported by advocacy groups, that's supported by evangelical Christian groups, you know, this is about as broad-based a coalition as you're going to get."
Obama described Florida Republican Marco Rubio as a "very positive force" in crafting the legislation, along with seven other senators in the "gang of eight."
"And my hope is, not only that we are going to end up with an immigration bill that shows that we're a nation of laws and a nation of citizens, that helps our economic growth, that helps us attract incredible talent to our shores, but I also hope that it kind of restarts muscle memory in Congress for getting bipartisan legislation done."
The eight senators who wrote the bill have called a Thursday afternoon news conference to discuss it. Conservatives already are dismissing it as "amnesty," because it creates an eventual pathway to citizenship for 11 million people who came to this country illegally.
On the topic of bipartisanship, Obama said he's had some "useful conversations" with Republicans over dinner.
"I've always maintained that people are not as polarized, even in this town, as it's portrayed in the media. The political engines of the party and blogs, et cetera, force people into taking more extreme positions publicly than they actually believe privately. I'm willing to try anything. As I said, I'm willing to wash folks' cars and walk their dogs if I can get some legislation passed."
On Wednesday, a furious President Obama blasted "a minority in the United States Senate" for defeating a bill that would have expanded gun background checks:
"A few minutes ago, 90 percent of Democrats in the Senate just voted for that idea. But it’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea. A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks. But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward."
Obama said the fight isn't over: "But we can do more if Congress gets its act together. And if this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation, then the real impact is going to have to come from the voters.
"To all the people who supported this legislation -- law enforcement and responsible gun owners, Democrats and Republicans, urban moms, rural hunters, whoever you are -- you need to let your representatives in Congress know that you are disappointed, and that if they don’t act this time, you will remember come election time."
Obama concluded his remarks, "I believe we’re going to be able to get this done. Sooner or later, we are going to get this right. The memories of these children demand it. And so do the American people."