President Obama begins charm offensive with Republicans

Jon Ward Contributor
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President Obama has invited the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress to the White House on Nov. 18 for a meeting and then a dinner in the residence.

“This is going to be a meeting in which I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people’s agenda forward,” Obama said to reporters after meeting with his cabinet at the White House.

“It’s not just going to be a photo op,” he said.

Obama said that “hopefully” the meeting “may spill over into dinner,” but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the plans for a dinner in the White House residence were firm.

“We envision a meeting and then a dinner up in the residence that evening,” Gibbs said. “I think this is the first of many of these.”

“I expect spending some time with each other both on business as well as socially is on the docket,” he said.

Obama has invited Republicans John Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader and soon-to-be speaker, Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House minority whip and soon-to-be majority leader, Senate Majority* Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Whip John Kyl of Arizona.

Democrats invited are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland.

The president has also invited all of the country’s governors to the White House on Dec. 2.

“A lot of times, things are a little less ideological when, you know, you get governors together, because they’ve got very practical problems that they’ve got to solve,” Obama said. “That kind of nuts-and-bolts stuff I think oftentimes yields the kind of commonsense approach that the American people I think are looking for right now.”

“We can’t afford two years of just squabbling. What we need to do is make sure that everybody’s pulling together, Democrats and Republicans and independents, folks at the federal level and the state levels, private sector with the public sector, to make sure that America retains its competitiveness, retains its leadership in the world.”

*Durbin was originally misidentified as Minority Whip.

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