And that doesn't mean he has an ideological affinity with the NDP.
President Barack Obama firmly resists ideological labels, but at the end of a private meeting with a group of moderate Democrats on Tuesday afternoon, he offered a statement of solidarity.
“I am a New Democrat,” he told the New Democrat Coalition, according to two sources at the White House session.
The group is comprised of centrist Democratic members of the House, who support free trade and a muscular foreign policy but are more moderate than the conservative Blue Dog Coalition.
Obama made his comment in discussing his budget priorities and broader goals, also calling himself a “pro-growth Democrat” during the course of conversation.
The self-descriptions are striking given Obama’s usual caution in being identified with any wing of his often-fractious party. He largely avoided the Democratic Leadership Council — the centrist group that Bill Clinton once led — and, with an eye on his national political standing, has always shied away from the liberal label, too.
As recently as last week, he steadfastly refused to define his governing philosophy.
Asked in an interview with The New York Times to describe if he was a liberal, socialist or progressive, Obama demurred.
“No, I’m not going to engage in that,” he said, before calling back the reporters later in the day to question why they would even ask if he is a socialist.
Surrounded by 65 moderate Democrats on Tuesday in the State Dining Room, Obama was happy to portray himself as simpatico with a group of members who are largely socially liberal but fiscally more moderate to conservative.
He said he “supports free and fair trade,” according to one attendee, and noted that he was “very concerned about a return to protectionism."