Columbus, Ohio (CNN) - Retiring Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said Monday that the upcoming lame duck session of Congress should work together on a handful of key issues to demonstrate a commitment to problem-solving rather than partisan bickering.
"When the public sees their elected officials fighting, they know for sure that their interests are not being heard or cared about," Voinovich told reporters after a rally for Ohio Republicans on Monday. "The most important thing that we can do, even in the lame duck, is to see whether we can't coalesce around a couple of things."
He suggested that in the lame duck session, the 18-member bipartisan debt commission should endorse recommendations to help repair the country's deep budget deficit. He called on lawmakers to listen to the commission and have "the courage to move forward and do the tough things that need to be done for our country."
The comments by Voinovich, who broke with his party to vote for Obama's small business loan bill in September, contrast with recent promises by some top Republicans to take a harder line against the president.
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the member of the House Republican leadership and a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said on talk radio last week that there should be "no compromise" with the White House on major issues.
Voinovich, who will retire next year when his second term in the Senate expires, struck a different tone.
"Once we are elected we ought to come together and find out those things we agree on and not concentrate on those things that we disagreeing on," he said. "My position has always been if the president has something that I think is in the best interest of the country, we should come together. It doesn't make any difference whether he gets credit for it or not. The American people want us to work together."