Obama tells American voters, 'I hear you,' vows to 'get the job done' with Republicans

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Obama tells American voters, 'I hear you,' vows to 'get the job done' with Republicans
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 6: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his first press conference in the Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014, following the Republican wave midterm elections. Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
FILE- These 2014 file photos show, from left, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. They will be the top three players in political Washington for the next two years: President Barack Obama, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner. (AP Photo, File)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Boehner said the Republican-controlled Congress will act to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, make changes in the health care law and encourage businesses to hire more veterans. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky holds a news conference on the day after the GOP gained enough seats to control the Senate in next year's Congress and make McConnell majority leader, in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. With sweeping victories that exceeded their own sky-high expectations, Republicans dealt the Democrats and President Barack Obama the most devastating electoral defeat of his presidency, gaining the power to shape the direction of America's government in the next two years. His first meeting with reporters since winning a sixth term in the midterm election, the senator was speaking at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center for political studies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama smiles at a reporter after saying that he's missed speaking to the reporters, as he is asked a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media during a news conference in the East Room a day after Democrats lost the US Senate Majority, November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday Republicans won the majority of the US Senate for the first time in 8 years after Americans went to the polls and voted in the mid-term elections. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama enters a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is holding an afternoon news conference Wednesday to share his take on the midterm election results after his party lost control of the Senate, and lost more turf in the GOP-controlled House while putting a series of Democratic-leaning states under control of new Republican governors. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky holds a news conference on the day after the GOP gained enough seats to control the Senate in next year's Congress and make McConnell majority leader, in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. With sweeping victories that exceeded their own sky-high expectations, Republicans dealt the Democrats and President Barack Obama the most devastating electoral defeat of his presidency, gaining the power to shape the direction of America's government in the next two years. His first meeting with reporters since winning a sixth term in the midterm election, the senator was speaking at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center for political studies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama pause during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama is standing by his pledge to act on his own to reduce deportations and improve border security by the end of the year. Obama says he will take his own steps despite election results that gave Republicans control of Congress. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama spoke about last nights midterm election where Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives and took control of the Senate. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, arrives to speak at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Confronting Republican control of both houses of Congress for the first time during his administration, President Obama faces a dilemma: how to fight when there's political value while at the same time trying to rebuild bridges to lawmakers in the party. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference in the East Room of the White House on November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama held the press conference one day after his Democratic party was defeated in midterm elections. President Obama congratulated his Republican opponents Wednesday on their midterm election victory and promised to work constructively with them in Congress for the next two years.'Obviously, Republicans had a good night and they deserve credit for running good campaigns,' he said, after Republicans took control of the Senate and strengthened their hold on the House of Representatives. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama, center, arrives to speak at a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Confronting Republican control of both houses of Congress for the first time during his administration, President Obama faces a dilemma: how to fight when there's political value while at the same time trying to rebuild bridges to lawmakers in the party. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: U.S. President Barack Obama walks away after speaking to the media during a news conference in the East Room a day after Democrats lost the US Senate Majority, November 5, 2014 in Washington, DC. Yesterday Republicans won the majority of the US Senate for the first time in 8 years after Americans went to the polls and voted in the mid-term elections. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Washington. Obama says he'll certainly be spending more time with McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur), adding that's the only way the White House and Congress will be able to get anything done. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- One day after sweeping Republican election gains, President Barack Obama and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to try and turn divided government into a force for good rather than gridlock on Wednesday, yet warned of veto showdowns as well.

Trade legislation loomed as one possibility for quick compromise, and immigration as an early irritant.

"There is no doubt that Republicans had a good night," the president said at the White House, referring to big gains that left the GOP in control of the Senate, with an expanded House majority and in possession of a handful of governorships formerly in Democratic hands.

To voters who handed the GOP control of Congress, he said, "I hear you. ... It's time for us to take care of business." He cited construction of roads, bridges and other facilities as one area ripe for cooperation, and trade as another.

At the same time, he noted, "Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign. I'm pretty sure I will take some actions that some in Congress will not like."

Obama and McConnell presented differing profiles at news conferences a little more than an hour apart.

Obama: The Next Congress Will Pass Bills I Cannot Sign

The 53-year-old president now faces a Congress under two-house control by Republicans for the first time in his tenure - and a lame duck status that becomes more of a check on his political power with each passing day.

McConnell, 72 and famously taciturn, smiled and joked with reporters on the day after achieving a lifelong ambition.

Still, the two said they had had a pleasant telephone conversation earlier in the day.

"I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell," said Obama, who once joked at a black-tie dinner that the Kentucky senator wouldn't be much of a drinking buddy.

Said McConnell, "In our system the president is the most important player" who can veto legislation or persuade lawmakers of his own party to back compromise.

Obama said that unless Congress takes action by the end of the year, he will order a reduction in deportations of working immigrants living in the country illegally.

He made his pledge a short while after McConnell warned him against acting unilaterally.

"It's like waving a red flag in front of a bull to say if you guys don't do what I want I'm going to do it on my own," McConnell said at a news conference in Kentucky.

McConnell also cited trade and taxes among areas ripe for compromise.

"There will be no government shutdown or default on the national debt," he said, making clear he doesn't agree with some tea party-backed lawmakers who have supported one or the other in the past - or may want to in the future.

McConnell will take office in January as Senate majority leader, and he and House Speaker John Boehner will have the authority to set the congressional agenda.

Boehner ceded the Republican limelight to McConnell for the day. The Ohio Republican is in line for a third term as House leader - and his first with a Republican majority in the Senate.

At his news conference, McConnell said, "When America chooses divided government, I don't think it means they don't want us to do anything. It means they want to do things for the country."

Beyond that, he made it clear Congress will vote on legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada through the United States, and work to repeal portions of the health care law that stands as Obama's signature domestic accomplishment. He said a tax on medical devices and a mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance are also Republican targets.

Obama ruled out ending the requirement for purchasing of health care. But he pointedly did not reject repeal of the tax, which many Democrats as well as Republicans have already signaled they are ready to jettison.

Republicans are also expected to mount a major attack on federal deficits.

In the second midterm elections of Obama's presidency, Republicans were assured of a gain of seven Senate seats. They bid for another in Alaska, where challenger Dan Sullivan led Sen. Mark Begich. Also uncalled was a race in Virginia, where Democratic Sen. Mark Warner faced challenger Ed Gillespie.

In Louisiana, Rep. Bill Cassidy led Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu into a Dec. 6 runoff.

Despite the reverses, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada announced he intended to remain as the Democratic leader. There was no sign of opposition.

House Republicans were within hailing distance of their largest majority since World War II, 246 seats in 1946, when Harry Truman sat in the White House.

Even so, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would seek another term as Democratic leader.

Only one governor's race remained uncalled, in Alaska, where independent Bill Walker led Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

Obama: I Won't Wait On Immigration

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