March 9th, 2013
12:29 PM ET
1 year 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. Ancient Texan

    83% of the American people want the spending brought under control. Winning 50.89% of the vote in November is NOT a landslide or a mandate.

    March 9, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  2. mike donnewald

    the mess we are in was created by two wars medicare d two tax cuts one great recession ALL not paid for. to say otherwise is just a bald faced lie!

    March 9, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. mittens

    President Obama and all America is missing the point. There will never be an end to the sequester as long as Congress members are protected by the Constitution which enables them to continually add to their already obscenely large salaries and benefits funded by taxpayers. I have a question. If the GOP supported millionaire businessmen eliminate the middle class which are their biggest customers supporting their business, how is their business going to be supported? Who will they sell to if they have no middle class customers?

    March 9, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  4. MaryM

    Either come together as Americans. Or keep playing the "us v. them" card and get left behind. Decide which side you are on – Someone who is willing to work with people, who might think differently, towards the greater good, or someone who wants to keep the divide alive.

    March 9, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  5. mittens

    President Obama and the American people are missing the point. The sequester will never be resolved as long as Congress is protected by the Constitution and allowed to add to their already obscene salaries and benefits funded by taxpayers. I have a question. The middle class are customers of the GOP funded millionaires. If they eliminate the middle class, how will their businesses be supported? Did I strike a nerve with you CNN?

    March 10, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  6. snowdogg

    "Realistly speaking the Conservatives and Republicians have been compromising with the democrats and liberals over the last 75 years."

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    No, not really.

    March 10, 2013 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  7. Indeigrl

    Democrats fought the will of the American people when they passed Obamacare. That's why Obama has a GOP House- the last time we trusted him with both houses of Congress we got Obamacared.
    The ONLY reason Obama is reaching out to the GOP is because polls are starting to show the electorate's disdain for his Campaigner in Chief act. Obama predicts Doom and Gloom over the Sequester to pressure the GOP and after the GOP refused to cave again to his "balanced approach" of tax hikes, tax hikes, and more tax hikes, the stock market hit a record high. Paying down debt is good for the economy. The public approves of the sequester, minus military cuts, by a 2:1 margin.

    March 10, 2013 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  8. Bob Shaffer

    You can't build a bridge in SEVEN minutes.

    March 10, 2013 03:47 am at 3:47 am |
  9. nevada39

    When you start name calling, attacking, and finger pointing, you know you have no real point to make and just refuse to consider that you might need to adjust your opinion on the subject at hand. (like an adult should)

    March 10, 2013 05:07 am at 5:07 am |
  10. Marri

    I do not trust anything he says or does. I don't believe he's sincere. Next to playing the blame game what has he done in four years? Are people deaf to an economy screaming to be fixed? Does any one really think he is serious about being president?? He and his wife would be better suited to stay in Hollywood!

    March 10, 2013 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  11. Brath

    “Let’s come together for the benefit of the American people – first and foremost, that’s our responsibility, If he can defuse some of their opposition to some of these issues" she does relize that it is the senate holding up the prosses right, the house has come up with several budgets, but the senate hasent, we should focus on making the senators fulfill one of the duties in their job description

    March 10, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  12. plain&simple

    Who's seen as unreasonable when you accept the olive branch? All our president can do is take the republicans at their word ,then let America see if that word means a damn thing!!!

    March 10, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  13. Ann

    This headline is misleading. He's not meeting with Republicans to get a compromise. He had dinner with them to get them to vote for HIS ideas. He didn't invite Republican leaders, so it shows you how serious he is about bipartisanship. If he wants bipartisanship in Congress, the first thing he needs to do is quit wasting money to travel the country and blaming Republicans. It makes him look stupid and it sure doesn't help negotiations. He needs to stop being president of the Democratic States of America and show true leadership as the president of the United States of America.

    March 10, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  14. Art

    Remember the public option one payer health care? I don't think the GOP could figure out to force all citizens to buy health insurance at whatever price the insurance companies decided to charge. So Obama did it for them. Has anyone notice how their premiums have increased? The way I see it the GOP owes Obama a big Thank You for doing to the citizens what they were not smart enough to do. Anyway the insurance company CEOs must be happy. With banks paying near nothing interest and Ben printing fiat money the savings of seniors are being inflated away. Anyway the bank CEOs must be happy. Have you noticed how Social Security is now being referred to as an entitlement after the government took the money from the SS funds and spent them in the general fund. They are an earned benefit except those on fradulent disability.

    March 10, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. Pete

    @Ray E(Geo),there hasn't been any bipartanship since Pres.Obamas been in office and you know it so quit being in denial..McConnell saying his only mission was to make the president a one termer..SCOTUS voting exclusively along party lines,isn't that against their guidelines as justices being so partisan especially the republican led majority there!!How many times has he publicly brought up jobs,infastructure and farm bills to be slapped away by republicans,you do know this new age of media nothing is hidden especially in politics ...McConnell recently brought up a bill on the floor and after Pres.Obama approved it McConnell turned around and voted against his own bill isn't that just blantant obstructionism from the right and again you know it!!Posters know especially your racist,hypocritical ones that consider themselves conservatives but are so far from the truth because it was Bushs tactics that hired hundreds of thousands of government employees,had two wars,Medicare Part D ,tax cuts and more all unfunded all you're going to tell me its all Pres.Obamas fault because that's typical of you republicans always as usual not taking responsibility for your messes you created and as usual passing them along to the democrates to clean up..It's historicly written from Pres.Hoovers Great Depression to Bushs just recent Great Recession that its your partys presidents that have never done anything good for America and remember it was Pres.Roosevelt a democrate that took 12 years to clean up that catastrophe and now Pres.Obama will probibly do it with eight years to again fix what republicans have destroyed!!But remember they'll be a changing of the guards come midterms your reps can't escape!! Truth does hurt doesn't it!!

    March 10, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. bearitstrong

    GOP doesn't want to work with POTUS and thus will seal their doom for 2016 elections.

    March 10, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Ancient Texan

    Yes, perhaps 83 % of Americans want spending brought under control. But why didn't republicans address deficit reduction and spending cuts during the Bush years??? Bush didn't have millions of unemployed and struggling Americans to put back to work, a housing crisis to fix, businesses to aid and jump start and a broken economy to fix. President Obama did. Let's face it, you CANNOT accused the President of" NOT doing anything to help unemployed and struggling Americans and small businesses" affected by the Great Recession as the teapublicans have done for four years and when the President sets into motion two stimulus bills to do just that, you then flip-flop and stress fiscal responsibility and accuse the President of wasteful spending. Its either or but you can't support two contrasting points of an argument simultaneously. Its like accusing the President of not doing anything to help the people of Libya and when the President gets our allies on board to share in the responsibility, you accused the President of "leading from behind or asking sarcastically without shame, "what's the mission and the end game, accusing the President of rushing to war."It is unethical to behave that way. Unfortunately teapublicans have no shame and they don't seem to care about their image or their lack integrity whatsoever.

    March 10, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. Roses

    The Obama administration came up with the sequestration cuts. They own them, and now they are in effect, Obama wants to work with GOP to change them. Sounds like he wants help from the opposition to fix HIS mistakes.

    What a leader!

    March 10, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. missddot

    Pete you are so right. History has proven that Republican Presidents create messes and then Democratic Presidents have to clean up their mess. Why would the repugs be more concerned about the wealthy? The middle class and lower middle have always grown the country. As far as the new healthcare law, it has forced insurance companies and other healthcare organization to rethink their idea of only taken care of those who have and leave out those who have less. If some say this is the greatest country in theworld, surely healthcare should be afforded to all. The Republicans will not work with this Prez and we all know why.

    March 10, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    What would republicans have done differently had they have control of the White House??? Gee, the last time the GOP had control of the White House, they also had control of the House and Senate and the end result???

    Should I say??? Well, the last time the GOP had control of the House, Senate and Executive branch, the end result was record unemployment, (800,000 jobs lost per month to be exact), high inflation, a housing crisis, a broken financial infrastructure and the worst economic crisis in America since the Great Depression.Debt reduction??? Fiscal responsibility??? Please.

    March 10, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. pubesrtoast

    The GOP's future is bleak. They need to compromise with the president to get things done so we can all move forward. If they do this they can then field a moderate candidate come 2016 and their chances of winning will be better. If they continue to be the party of no (and sometimes hell no!), we will need to form another stronger, better opposition party. The changing demographics is not with the GOP. Because access to information is easier these days, more people distrust them. GOP needs to accept these realities or they may go the way of the Dodo.

    March 10, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Carl

    Promise Obama more revenue in 2017 and beyond. Then, do what he does, and never do it..

    March 10, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Roses

    If the Obama administration came up with the sequester cuts as you've stated, then why did the President and all the Democrats vote against the sequester and all the republicans vote for the sequester??? One republican rep said the sequester was a home run for republicans, John Boehner said he had gotten 98% of what he was looking for in the sequester so he was pleased with it and Mitch McConnel said he was not interested in an eleventh hour compromise to avert the cuts. Seems like another teapublican scheme to derail the recovery and the American people.

    March 10, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Each and every day, the republican base loses about 2% of its base because of their blatant lies and refusal to connect with the American people . By this time next year, it would be a home run for democrats.

    March 10, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. PL

    Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Roses

    If the Obama administration came up with the sequester cuts as you've stated, then why did the President and all the Democrats vote against the sequester and all the republicans vote for the sequester??? One republican rep said the sequester was a home run for republicans, John Boehner said he had gotten 98% of what he was looking for in the sequester so he was pleased with it and Mitch McConnel said he was not interested in an eleventh hour compromise to avert the cuts. Seems like another teapublican scheme to derail the recovery and the American people.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    Good Lord, back off the kool-aid. The Democrats voted and passed the sequester and Obama signed it into law. The White House even had to admit it after denying it. No wonder this country is in such a mess. We have low informed voters like you out there voting, Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer.

    March 10, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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