Former President Obama exhorted House Democrats to celebrate their accomplishments on the campaign trail, rather than dwell on the setbacks they’ve faced, as they try to defend their slim majority in the midterm elections this year. 

Obama, the featured keynote speaker during the caucus’ virtual messaging summit Thursday, told lawmakers to “take the wins you can get” and it “doesn’t help to whine about the stuff you can’t change,” according to two sources familiar with the conversation. He argued that they have a more compelling message in selling what their legislative successes mean to voters, rather than campaigning from a defensive crouch, one source said. 

The former president encouraged members to aggressively highlight the progress President Biden and congressional Democrats have made on issues from COVID-19 to the economy. He reminded them of the fight to pass the nation’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, when he was president — and their failure to include a public option. It was a way of reiterating that Democrats shouldn’t let what they didn’t accomplish stop them from celebrating what they did accomplish. 

Obama’s message to Democrats comes as Republicans make a push to take back the majority in the midterm elections, amid Mr. Biden’s falling approval ratings: his Build Back Better social spending agenda and broad voting rights bills do not appear to have a path forward right now, and soaring inflation is hitting Americans hard, despite other positive economic indicators. 

Mr. Biden has been trying to promote the bipartisan infrastructure law as a measure that is yielding hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending for roads, bridges, broadband Internet and other needs, as well as advances in fighting the coronavirus that have been made during his administration, including the broadening of COVID vaccine availability to different age groups, the development of antivirals and other measures.