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Obama lets rip on trip out of Washington

By Steve Holland

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - President Barack Obama may look back on this week as the time when he dropped all pretense of political decorum and let all his frustrations with Washington gridlock spill forth.

Obama's public speeches on a three-day trip, like the one he delivered at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, covered many of the same talking points he delivers at Democratic fund-raising events.

But the tone was significantly sharper.

In fact, the slashing rhetoric he used before an adoring crowd in the Texas capital may well have surpassed the typically sober review of the status of Washington that he lays out for high-dollar Democratic donors.

Obama has a long list of grievances with Republicans who control the House of Representatives, who have blocked much of his second-term agenda. Problem No. 1 is the lawsuit that House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner is threatening to file over what Republicans feel is Obama's wanton use of executive orders to skirt around congressional inertia.

"You hear some of 'em, 'sue him, impeach him,'" Obama said, then added a sarcastic, "Really?"

"For what? You're going to sue me for doing my job? OK. I mean, think about that, you're going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job, while you don't do your job?"

The crowd applauded.

"Sometimes I feel like saying to these guys, 'Iā€™m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy,'" he said.

With Obama's latest congressional proposal, $3.7 billion to tackle the border crisis, facing a rocky path to passage in Congress, the president is contending with what may well be a Washington stalemate throughout the rest of his presidency, which ends in early 2017.

On this week's trip, he has taken to wandering down memory lane, recalling simpler times before he was a global figure, remembering fondly a walk he took along the river in Austin that did not attract a crowd or the time he sang on stage here.

"I remember going to a bar, club, or honky-tonk around here and singing on stage. I wasn't very good. But people were enthusiastic," he said at a fund-raiser at a private home in Austin.

Obama is finding his travels out of Washington to be cathartic, a way to connect with people who helped put him in office.

"What I've said to my team is 'get me out of Washington,'ā€ the president told donors at the event. He said wanted to talk to people who are doing the right thing and struggling so they know they are being heard.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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