Full AP story here.
On his first big test, Barack Obama made some rookie mistakes and strategic missteps. But he still appears headed for a win on the centerpiece of his agenda, a huge economic recovery program, with the fresh striking of a bipartisan deal in the Senate.
Legislative leaders, including some fellow Democrats who support him, chalked up his problems to inexperience and some initial miscalculations over the lack of GOP support, and they suggest he'll learn from the rocky start. . . .
Some veteran Democrats say Obama could have made it easier for himself.
"I think it is important that he reached out. But lesson learned: It would have been better for him to send up his idea of a bill," instead of having House Democratic leaders initiate the process, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. . . .
Even though Obama and top aides stayed close to the process, the result was an $819 billion package packed with spending projects, some of which struck even some fiscally conservative Democrats as not particularly stimulative. In the Senate, an even larger package was considered, although the deal struck Friday night pared it back some.
The size and composition of the plan gave Republicans an opening to assert that Obama had given too much leeway to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank. And they also could argue that, while Obama had offered to consider GOP suggestions for the package, none wound up in the legislation. . . .
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who has actively championed the stimulus bill, said Obama stumbled at first by ceding the debate to Capitol Hill and not stepping out more forcefully to explain the bill to the public.
"A small percentage of this bill, the unnecessary spending, allowed Republicans -- who have played politics on this from the beginning -- to discredit it so public opinion is against it," Rendell, the chairman of the National Governors Association, said in an interview Friday. "We need a massive stimulus bill with spending. Every economist says that. And yet the American people are against it now because we let the Republicans spin."
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said Republican critics were able to define the legislation as a bloated spending measure being rushed through Congress. "We can't just sit back and let them define us," he said. He said he was pleased that Obama had shifted gears and was "going on the offensive." . . .
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Obama's courtship of Republicans only to be rebuffed by them should serve as "an early lesson for President Obama and his team." . . .