March 9th, 2013
12:29 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama outreach to 'defuse' GOP opposition, Pelosi says

(CNN) – Breaking bread with Republican senators. Meeting with the GOP House and Senate caucuses. Sitting down to lunch with the GOP’s budget point man – who tried to bump him from the White House last year.

Is President Barack Obama, as one pundit said, just hungry? Or is he engaging in a newfound effort to bridge gaps between the parties as his second term gets under way? The top Democrat in the House says the latter.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in an exclusive interview to run Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Obama has “been very bipartisan in his approach” to Republicans.

“All of us come here to get a job done for the American people, and certainly that is the case with the president of the United States,” Pelosi told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. “I think that these meetings are not something to say, ‘Well, I’ll do this with you now and do that with them later.’ I think it is, ‘Let’s get some things done together to make elections less important.’”

Obama’s reaches across the aisle come after the politically bruising battle over the so-called fiscal cliff in late December, where lawmakers hammered out a last-minute deal and posturing over the forced federal spending cuts known as the sequester and by all accounts lawmakers and the White House never got close to reaching common ground.

Obama charged Republicans were “protecting special interest tax breaks for the well-off” rather than protecting the economy from harmful cuts, while House Speaker John Boehner said the House had already voted and that Democrats needed to “get off their ass and begins to do something.”

But then came the president’s outreach.

He made phone calls to several Republican senators and then sat down to dinner on Wednesday with a dozen of them at a hotel near the White House to talk about the federal government’s finances.

He ate lunch with the top Republican and Democrat on the House Budget Committee. After the meal with Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Ryan said the meeting was a "frank discussion about Washington's budget challenges."

Next week, Obama is expected to meet with House Republicans on Wednesday and Senate Republicans on Thursday. He also will meet with Senate Democrats on Tuesday and House Democrats on Thursday.

This is ahead of the March 27 deadline to avoid a government shutdown and an expected need to increase the federal debt limit this spring or summer.

He also wants to make progress on immigration reform, education reform and gun violence reduction.

In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama said, "Making progress on these issues won’t be easy. In the months ahead, there will be more contentious debate and honest disagreement between principled people who want what’s best for this country. But I still believe that compromise is possible. I still believe we can come together to do big things. And I know there are leaders on the other side who share that belief."

Pelosi said on CNN that the president's effort was aimed at solutions.

“Let’s come together for the benefit of the American people - first and foremost, that’s our responsibility,” she said. “If he can defuse some of their opposition to some of these issues, bravo again for the American people that we can get a job done for them. That’s far more important than what happens in an election.”

And Republicans are taking note, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who said the recent meetings are a positive sign.

“This is a change that I think we should encourage, whether it’s motivated for all sorts of reasons that we don’t understand or not,” he said. “Ronald Reagan would have done that, George Bush would have done that.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: House • John Boehner • Nancy Pelosi • Paul Ryan • President Obama • Senate • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Realistly speaking the Conservatives and Republicians have been compromising with the democrats and liberals over the last 75 years. We have a nearly 17 Trillion dollar federal debt to show for it. If we keep going that way the interest on the debt will consume every dollar of taxes collected by the government. Then no social progams will exist. Now is the time to start paying the debt off.

    March 9, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Even if President Obama and Republican Congressional leaders agree on a compromise, can Speaker Boehner deliver the necessary votes from his caucus? Tea Party obstructionists in both the Senate and House will mount a fierce push back with threats and promise of retribution.

    March 9, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. lottie

    people have been clamoring for him to reach out and when he does they complain. It is hard to sit down with people that continually attack you especially since he has tried since he took office. How many times has the party of No blocked bills even before they where presented just because the president was in favor of them. Now these big cry babies need their hand held and someone to take them to lunch. I guess they need to be stroked and coddled to do the job we sent them to Washington to do. They can't even be civil to one another. All the backbiteing within their own party makes me sick. They all need to grow up or go home. The president has more important thing to do than baby sit a bunch of out of touch trolls

    March 9, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Larry L

    Republicans need to accept the olive branch and do so with enthusiasm. Americans watch them pander to the rich – refusing to close tax loopholes for the wealthy while our federal services wither. Republicans want to reduce benefits to Medicare, attack Social Security, and kill any programs designed to help the poor. The President offers painful modifications to these programs as possible sacrifices – but the Republicans offer no sacrifices from their sugar daddies. The 2014 election will be a blood-letting for the GOP with people fed up with obstructing of progress and cheap political games.

    March 9, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Carl

    Don't belise Pelosi – she's just another political hack. He's doing to to get his way in the March Government debt ceiling negotiations. Then he'll be off campaigning again for 2014. Tell him to join a minstral show somewhere else.

    March 9, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Name lynn

    The problem is the white house leaders, not obama the white house leaders wanting obama to hurt the poor people an let the rich get richer, the president not letting it happen, now angry white house leaders.

    March 9, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Name Catmandew

    This from Pelosi the woman that said more food stamps were a good sign! Then said on the Obamacare bill that we would have to pass it to see if it was a good thing! She is a good part of why we are in trouble now. Her agenda is budget breaking and she don't know squat! She is not a believable source for anything.

    March 9, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. WiredweirdinSF

    What? Do you mean that the most corrupt, lying, inept, incompetent, union toady president we have ever had would be insincere enough to try to trick the Republicans like a low life, drug addicted, welfare fraud democrat liberal like Nancy Pelosi? Would the here of millions of people stoop to such low life tricks to once again try to fool the American people (like Nancy Pelsosi). You bet he would, he has no interest other selfish party politics, self aggrandizment, and his next taxpayer paid vacation. He is a democrat liberal as evil and corrupt as they come. No sense in working on a real solution when your are dedicated to destroying this country.

    March 9, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Name Catmandew

    What a waste of air!

    March 9, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. RINO Bill

    All of Obama's cowtowing to the Republicans, along with a few free meals, will still get him a good old GOP kick in the teeth at the first opportunity. For someone of his supposed intellegence, one would think that Obama would know better by now.

    I bet Barack still believes in the tooth fairy too.

    March 9, 2013 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Dean

    How does this woman continue to get re-elected?

    March 9, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  12. Name Catmandew

    Isn't she the wench that is about half responsible for the mess we are in? Can't believe anything she says anyway!

    March 9, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Really?

    What a load of horse m@nure

    March 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Well, the gop has got to stop fighting the will of the American people ,most of us normal voters want that ,and you need to realise that the fringe super fringe right wing extremest realtime don't count ,and can't win an elections .

    March 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. itsy_bitsy

    The only "outreach" Republicans are going to see from Obama is the outreach he makes to his followers to steal the 2014 election, which will enable him to totally enslave us! This next election is as much as stolen already! He controls the people who control the computers that count the votes!! God Help Us!!

    March 9, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Clarke

    Gee, GOP complained about secret service for golf games, I wonder if they will complain about the cost of winieing and dining them as well. Bet 10 dollars to a donut they don't.

    March 9, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    @Ray E. (Georgia): "Realistly speaking the Conservatives and Republicians have been compromising with the democrats and liberals over the last 75 years. We have a nearly 17 Trillion dollar federal debt to show for it."

    Two unfunded wars, unfunded Medicare Part D and tax cuts during wartime (NEVER done in our nation's history). Failed trickle-down economics. None of these are Democratic ideas; Repubs own the debt.

    President Obama trying to address rising medical costs as our nation ages and Repubs are doing everything they can to block it.

    Realistically, what we need to start doing is addressing our Republican problem: BY VOTING THEM ALL OUT IN 2014.

    March 9, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. jpmichigan

    It is just a game! Obama will use any measure to get what he wants, the problems is the people on the other side of this game are on to him. Was it TRULY a case of compromise and negotiation or just more BS from the White House. Obamas back is against the wall, with little room to move.

    March 9, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. cbr

    The problem he faces is the rush to judgement that follows everything he does. The naysayers will continue to dis the idea and will state that he has an ulterior motive. Some will be negative in other ways. However, if the GOP and the Democrats do not work together the county will suffer. The less they day the more bitter people will become. WE should be willing to listen. Work together until an agreement is reached.

    Four years ago, Sen. McConnell vowed that he would not pass any legislation that will help the President win re-election. Way the President was re-elected and Sen. McConnell and Rep. Boehner. So far their attitudes have not changed. It is time for them to work with their counterparts and get this nation moving ahead. If they cannot do os then they need to resign their leadership positions to letl someone else do the job.

    March 9, 2013 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    Trying to work with Repubs is a waste of time. They care more about their benefactors like the Koch brothers and all the foreign nationals and corporations who contribute to their campaigns.

    President Obama needs to accept this fact and move forward without them.

    March 9, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. Rick 7809

    “Ronald Reagan would have done that, George Bush would have done that.”

    George H.W. Bush would have done that. "W" was too busy listening to Karl Rove.

    March 9, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. whitepine

    Why do the American people like all this fighting? They say they don't but then they vote the fighters right back into office and then encourage their politicians to continue fight. Listen to Americans talk. They hate their government which is their country. If American is to change, its 300 million people, not just the politicians, need to figure out if they want to do to make this country great and errand respect around the world. Oh, and it's just not at the federal level, my state government sure has a lot of clowns and corruption that needs to be addressed. Call the politicians and complain. I do.

    March 9, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  23. Kathleen

    For those of us who are targeted by Congress and the White House with the Sequestration, we shaking our heads. It would be comical if it was not such a blatant attack on us and America. They are not capable of doing thier job, they are not leaders. Nobody, nobody is buying the political BS that keeps spewing out of the mouths of these elected officials. Four words, and they must listen very carefully, because they are not getting the message, four words and they are " A new Congress now!

    March 9, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. Blue Dog

    When will Obama learn? GOP is no mood to compromise.

    March 9, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  25. Tom

    George implied that the Democrats were responsible for 16 trillion in debts as a result of republicans compromising with the democrats. He conveniently forgets to acknowledge that under republican leadership in the period 2001 thru 2008 a surplus under President Clinton was erased and deficits were run up in the trillions as a result of 2 wars, tax cuts that primarily benefitted the wealthiest Americans, medicare part D non of which was paid for. This was followed by economic collapse a good part of which was caused individual and criminal corporate greed amny of whom were most likely republicans. It is time for Republicans to acknowledge their role in the currrent mess and to work together with Democrats to solve the problems in a fair and responsible manner so that we don't fall back into the great recession.

    March 9, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
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