"People want jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Um, should I say it again? Jobs," one Republican said.
"Far too many more-important issues. Republicans should be happy if Democrats go out on a limb on global warming ... and saw it off," another said. Yet another snarked: "Americans still prefer affordable energy over pie-in-the-sky, Al Gore-inspired happy talk."
Some pointed out that the American people, even if convinced of the dangers of climate change, were not ready to adopt painful measures to address the problem.
"Even those who believe we have a climate-change problem can't abide Obama's climate-change solutions. No matter how many hurricanes, floods, or tsunamis, it will not be a winning issue," one Republican said.
Some Democrats nevertheless expressed optimism that the politics of climate change were quickly changing and would ultimately benefit the party.
"Every public poll on the issue has demonstrated the American people support action on climate change, like the EPA, and want the U.S. to take action. People are starting to believe their eyes instead of the deniers," one Democrat said.
"Acceptance that the climate has changed -- regardless of what you think has caused it -- has altered the public's attitude about what must be done. As long as Democrats continue to appeal to the sensible center, we'll win more than we lose," another added.
In an interview with New Republic, Barack Obama outlined his focus on circumventing Congress and getting his message directly to the American people.
On climate change, it's a daunting task. But we know what releases carbon into the atmosphere, and we have tools right now that would start scaling that back, although we'd still need some big technological breakthrough.
So the question is not, Do we have policies that might work? It is, Can we mobilize the political will to act? And so, I've been spending a lot of time just thinking about how do I communicate more effectively with the American people? How do I try to bridge some of the divides that are longstanding in our culture? How do I project a sense of confidence in our future at a time when people are feeling anxious? They are more questions of values and emotions and tapping into people's spirit.
I always read a lot of Lincoln, and I'm reminded of his adage that, with public opinion, there's nothing you can't accomplish; without it, you're not going to get very far. And spending a lot more time in terms of being in a conversation with the American people as opposed to just playing an insider game here in Washington is an example of the kinds of change in orientation that I think we've undergone, not just me personally, but the entire White House.