Obama Wants to 'Institutionalize' the American Spirit He Saw in Boston and West, Texas

By Susan Jones | May 14, 2013 | 5:48 AM EDT

President Barack Obama listens as British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks, during their joint news conference, Monday, May 13, 2013, in the East Room of the White House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in New York on Monday, mused about his final years in office, saying he wants to "do more" to make sure the American spirit of people helping each other in tough times "is reflected in our politics and our government."

"And more than anything, what I will be striving for over the next three and a half years is to see if that spirit that I saw in Boston and West, Texas, if we can institutionalize that, if we can create a framework where everybody is working together and moving this country forward."

Obama told the donors about driving to a memorial service in Boston with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick shortly after the marathon bombing: "And we talked about that, in the midst of tragedy, the incredible strength and courage and resolve of the American people just comes out, and the neighborliness, and the sense of willing to support strangers and neighbors and friends during tough times."

He said he saw that "same spirit" in West, Texas, following the deadly explosion of a fertilizer plant.

"And part of what Deval and I talked about was what do we need to do to make sure that that same spirit is reflected in our politics and our government -- because it's there every day for people to see. It doesn't matter whether people are Democrats or Republicans or independents. If you go into schools, you go to Little League games, you talk to people at the workplace -- everybody has the same sense that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we've gone through some tough times, but we're resilient and we can overcome whatever challenges are thrown at us.

"And there's a desire to get outside of the constant squabbling and bickering and positioning and gamesmanship, and get to the business of figuring out how do we make sure that the next generation does better than this generation.

"And as I think about my second term, and people have asked me, what's different about your second term -- well, other than me being grayer -- (laughter) -- and my girls being taller, the main thing about a second term is, A, I don't have to run for office again; but, B, you also start just thinking about history, and you start thinking about -- in longer sweeps of time, and you start saying to yourself that the three and a half years that I've got is not a lot, and so I've got to make sure that I use everything I've got to make as much of a difference as I can."

'My intentions are to govern'

Obama plugged his agenda -- education and infrastructure reform, combating climate change -- and then thanked the donors for supporting the Democrat Party:

"I want everybody to understand that my intentions over the next three and a half years are to govern, because I don't have another race left. If we've got folks on the other side who are prepared to cooperate, that is great and we are ready to go. On the other hand, if there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation, then I want to make sure that there are consequences to that."

He didn't explain what those "consequences" might be, but his focus since beginning his second term has been 2014, when he hopes to see a Democrat-controlled House and Senate emerge from the mid-term election.