When Mr. Obama made a surprise visit to Capitol Hill recently to plead with Democrats to support his trade agenda in the face of charges from labor unions and other opponents that doing so would doom middle-class workers while enriching big corporations, he veered from his normal script.
Instead of the kind of policy-heavy dissertation Mr. Obama usually offers, attendees said, he gave a more personal speech, reaching back to his days as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.
“It was a cri de coeur,” said Representative Gerald E. Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who listened to the president in a conference room adjacent to the Capitol. “You could really see the strain.”
Mr. Connolly said Mr. Obama was “as emotional as I’ve ever seen him get” as he told fellow Democrats that he was hurt that they would believe he would agree to a trade deal that would undercut workers and the middle class.