Bemoaning the fact that many Republicans these days are opposed to spending more on infrastructure or investing in new technologies, Obama told a crowd at the University of Vermont that it didn't used to be that way.
He invoked the 16th president: "The first Republican president, President Lincoln, who, by the way, couldn't win the nomination for the Republican primary right now," Obama said, "in the middle of the Civil War helped to make the Transcontinental Railroad possible, the land grant colleges, the National Academy [of Sciences]."
"This has not traditionally been a Democratic or a Republican idea," Obama noted about infrastructure spending. "It was a Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who called for a progressive income tax. It was Dwight Eisenhower who built the interstate highway system."
Lincoln "understood that we're in this together; we've got to make an investment in our futures," Obama said. "It was with the help of Republicans that FDR was able to give millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, the chance to go to college through the GI bill."
The president's remarks came just hours after he signed a 90-day extension of the federal transportation act, funding highways and other transit projects that would have run out of money on Saturday. The GOP House refused to consider a Senate bill, opposed by more conservative members, that would have provided two years of funding.