(USA TODAY) -- President Obama says he's not running against Republicans so much as the party's conservative faction.
"We've got one party in Congress right now that has been captured by ideologues whose core premise is 'no,'" Obama told Democratic donors in Maryland on Monday. "Who fundamentally believe that the problem is government; who don't believe that we as a community — as a country — have any serious role to play in giving people a hand up."
Echoing other fundraising speeches, Obama said too many Tea Party-type Republicans ignore the legacies of their predecessors: Abraham Lincoln, who backed infrastructure projects like the trans-continental railroad; Theodore Roosevelt, who supported conservation, and Dwight Eisenhower, who pushed science and education.
"When I say a party has been captured, it's because I actually want an effective, serious, patriotic, capable, sober-minded Republican Party," Obama said.
The president's efforts to cast the Republicans as unacceptably conservative come during a congressional election season in which the GOP is heavily favored to keep control of the U.S. House and has a shot at winning the U.S. Senate.
Republicans noted that some Democratic candidates are distancing themselves from the president because of unpopular policies.
"Democrats aren't happy, independents aren't happy," said Kirsten Kukowski, spokesperson for the Republican Party.
"No one is happy with Obama's leadership on everything from Obamacare to lives being lost at the VA (Veterans Administration) and Americans suffering from a stagnant economy so he's desperately trying to blame Republicans," she said.