Pass the salt: GOP senators dine with Obama
April 10th, 2013
09:30 PM ET
9 years ago

Pass the salt: GOP senators dine with Obama

(CNN) - On a day with gun control and the federal budget in the spotlight, President Barack Obama continued his congressional outreach at dinner with a dozen Senate Republicans in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House.

Wednesday's event marked Obama's second dinner meeting with Senate Republicans in a little more than a month, though the guest list was different from the last meet-up. Senators began arriving at the White House around 6:45 p.m., and a White House official said the dinner ended at 9:17 p.m.

"Tonight, the President enjoyed a constructive, wide-ranging discussion with Republican Senators that included reducing the deficit in a balanced way, reforming our broken immigration system and adopting common-sense measures to reduce gun violence," the official said.

Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia was asked to arrange the 12 invitations.

"The bulk of the conversation was driven by the members the president allowed to come. Most of the conversation was about debt, deficit, our growing national debt, our fiscal policy and reforming entitlements," Isakson said Thursday on CNN's "Starting Point."

"It was a very meaningful three-hour discussion," he continued. "A free flow exchange of ideas from both sides."

Aside from Isakson, the Republican senators attending dinner at the White House Wednesday were Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, John Thune of South Dakota, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

While Obama dined with a dozen senators at an upscale Washington restaurant in March, the dinner this time took place at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The White House official said the group ate a green salad, steak and sautéed vegetables.

"The President thanked Sen. Iskason for bringing the group together and was pleased to host the Senators for dinner tonight and looks forward to continuing bipartisan conversations in the weeks and months ahead," the official continued.

"I commend the president for reaching out to us, as it is critically important that we communicate directly in order to find common ground," Isakson said in his statement. "It's the only way that we can find solutions that are right for America - not just a win for the president or a win for Republicans. I hope we can continue the conversation from tonight."

Senator Hatch’s office declined to discuss details of the private dinner, but described the gathering as “wide-ranging, and open discussion on a whole range of issues from entitlements to tax reform.”

“Senator Hatch greatly appreciated the president having him and a group of his Republican colleagues over to dinner this evening at the White House,” Hatch’s office said.

Last month's dinner was described by different attendees as "honest," "interactive," and "cordial"–and signaled a shift in approach by the chief executive to cultivate alliances with rivals who have stood opposed to his policy proposals.

Tension between the White House and Capitol Hill remain high as Congress faces three major legislative battles on gun control, immigration and fiscal issues in the coming months.

Obama announced his budget plan earlier Wednesday, a $3.77 trillion proposal for 2014 that would cut deficits by $1.8 trillion over the next decade.

Asked if the president plans to talk about gun control at the dinner–an issue that reached a new height Wednesday when lawmakers reached a bipartisan compromise proposal on background checks–Carney said "there's no script" for the dinner but the topic will likely come up.

"I don't think the president will be shy about expressing his views on this matter," he said. "It will certainly be something the President wants to discuss."

Filed under: President Obama • Senate • White House
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- TAKE BACK THE HOUSE

    What? No Sen. Rafael(Ted) Cruz or Rand Paul?

    April 10, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Pete

    I heard the republicans are wanting the main course be crow because of their obstructionistic behavior...Tell them Pres.Obama its republicans final meal before midterms so enjoy because after midterms they'll be on unemployement as well...

    April 10, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. tammyk tammy

    Of course Rubio has a conflict ... He always has a conflict with the President. Remember this Rubio – If you're not part of the solution, then YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

    April 10, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Serve the Republican politicians what an elderly couple dependent solely on a monthly Social Security check can afford to eat. Perhaps they will develop some empathy and compassion...two things sorely missing in the Republican Party.

    April 10, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. me

    awwwwwww did youu al get your one big feeling hurt?

    April 10, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. PJ

    I'll give you this Ticker. You certainly show some beautiful pictures of Washington. Especially the buildings and
    grounds. Love this one in particular.

    April 10, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    Watch your food Mr. President. I don't trust them as far as I can throw them.

    April 10, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. freedom

    This is so stupid. Can't he work alongside Congress like a normal president? All he knows how to do is showboat, campaign, and community organize. Still cannot believe the American people thought he was worthy for a second term. He is accomplishing NOTHING – and he only cares about his egocentric agenda. Still waiting for a Grand Jury to call him in to testify about Benghazi. Much worse than Nixon.

    April 10, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  9. Wake up People!

    Rubio is so full of it. You mean to tell me you can't take an hour or two off to dine with your CIC??? Just be honest for once in your miserable life Rubio. You're just as bad as the others and don't want to be seen with our duly reelected POTUS.

    April 10, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Caramon

    Randy, did you not read the article posted on CNN concerning social security cuts in the President's budget? Perhaps you should read it.

    April 10, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. george cook

    Does anybody really understand what this Obamma Charade is all op and meeting with the GOP to try and convince the public he is "actually working with and negotiating with" in good faith ( OH YEAH!) with the GOP to get the Deficit, Guns, Immigration issues resolved. Question: does he really want to resolve them at all?? Who Knows..he such as heck has had plenty of time to do just that. But his mantra is alwas "MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY" never mind either of the parties or Congress or the American people so far as that goes...besides he is KING, EMPERORT, DICTATOR and we are all his SERVANTS in his mind anyway.

    April 10, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "He is accomplishing NOTHING "

    He is about to add gun safety legislation to the rather large list of things he's equality, the ACA, repeal of DADT, marriage equality (soon enough), reduced deficits (despite the MSM refusing to report the numbers), immigration reform (also upcoming), reducing net illegal immigration to zero, etc etc etc, the list goes on and do your lies.

    April 10, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Does anybody really understand what this Obamma Charade is all op and meeting with the GOP to try and convince the public he is "actually working with and negotiating with" in good faith"

    Yeah, and he totally paid all of those GOPers who met with him last time to come out of the meeting saying unexpectedly nice and positive things about their last meeting, just so they could help him shift blame to the GOP. Do you guys even listen to yourselves speak?

    April 10, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Watch your food Mr. President. I don't trust them as far as I can throw them."

    To be honest, maybe a good food fight is just what they need to get it out of their systems hehe

    April 10, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  15. Wake up People!

    Actually George Cook, it was the republicans that stated there will be no compromise. Basically what the POTUS is doing is kissing their rear ends begging them to work with him and put the country first. And the media, especially Foxlite is helping the GOP.

    April 10, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, what a joy it would be to see green grass and flowering trees again.
    I agree with PJ. This is a beautiful picture, indeed.

    April 10, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  17. Caramon

    Pete, that is the same thing said after the 2008 election. Believe it or not, not everyone agrees with the current President. Representatives are elected by the people in their district. There are many districts that do not want Democratic policies to pass without resistance such as uncontrolled spending.

    April 10, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz aka Take Back The House


    While you're waiting on a grand jury, I'm still waiting for the ICC to prosecute Bush, Cheney & Rumsfeld for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Wishful thinking.

    April 10, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. Joi Gibson

    Senator Rubio isn't sure he can make it because of his immigration work. Yeah right!! He could make the time if he wanted. The President has just as much on his agenda as does Senator Rubio, yet he is making an effort. Rubio should do the same. Wait, I'm sorry, Rubio is too busy making noises about Beyonce and Jaz-Z going to Cuba.

    April 10, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Caramon

    Sniffit, the President has nothing to do with marriage equality. It is in the hands of California who sued and the Supreme Court. Exactly where was his involvement in this issue? How will the President reduce net illegal immigration to zero? Immigration reform is also in the hands of Congress. His job is simply to sign the bill if it ever passes. You talk about his accomplishments in the past tense. Then list what he has yet to do.

    April 10, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  21. Bill

    Are you kidding me? These are the same senators which Obama accused of wanting to starve Americas childeren push Granny over the cliff and here he wants to have dinner with them? Either he is a habitual liar or maybe they don't want to really kill Americas children and Obama is just trying to scare his fellow Americans with bad information. Doesn't he realize there are people who trust him and take him seriously and do not think he would lie to them. What is wrong with this man?

    April 10, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Malory Archer


    There are many districts that do not want Democratic policies to pass without resistance such as uncontrolled spending.


    Oh you mean those gerrymandered districts in rethug-owned states? While gerrymandering has made it impossible for Dems to win in those states, the fact remains that the Dem congressional candidates got 1 million+ more votes than rethugs, so it kinda sounds like the people DID want the Dem policies. Had the rethugs not stacked the deck in their favor they would have gone the way of the Dodo bird.

    April 10, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Wake up People!

    Sniffit, I wish I was only thinking about a food fight.....but my thoughts are a lot darker. I actually am worried about them poisoning him. Like I said, can't trust em.

    April 10, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "Democratic policies to pass without resistance such as uncontrolled spending."

    Newsflash: "uncontrolled spending" is not a policy and nobody is advocating it. Rather, "uncontrolled spending" is a hyperbolic mischaracterization of Obama/Dem policies. Obama's "uncontrolled" spending has resulted in by far the slowest growth in government spending since Eisenhower at only 1.4% per year. That's not even remotely "uncontrolled." "Uncontrolled" is Reagan and Dubya increasing gov't spending by over 8% per year and ballooning the deficits with tax cuts and/or unpaid for wars and programs. The primary cause of deficits during Obama's first term (which have gone down since he took office by the way) have been the Bush tax cuts, the two wars and the recession-caused unemployment spike, which killed the government's revenue even further. THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE.

    April 10, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  25. Larry in Houston

    Hatch ?? Are You Kidding me ?? ORRIN HATCH ?? LOL – he's the same guy that was talked about in our union meetings – 35 years ago – he hated people that was entering ANY union, or union people of ANY type. As a matter of Fact, He hated Anybody that made more than minimum wage – and that was even too much. LOL – well , no wonder people in this country wants term limits – He reminds me of 'ol Mitch – the people in their states will vote for them, no matter what – that's why they are in congress for Life.

    April 10, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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