(CNN) - Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was late for dinner with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, but she told a news outlet she had a fair excuse.
And, according to the report in Politico, the president agreed.
"I was 45 minutes late for dinner with the president of the United States. Everybody was seated when I got there, because I spent time talking to the parents and the family members of those who were killed at Newtown," she said in a phone call with a Politico reporter Friday afternoon, according to the outlet.
"And I said to the president when I made my profuse apologies, that the reason I was late is I was meeting with the Newtown families. He said, 'I understand. You made the right call. Don't worry about it.' They're already through the first course. They were finishing the salad course."
The salad was first on the menu at the two-and-a-half hour long dinner, according to a White House official, who said the group discussed "reducing the deficit in a balanced way, reforming our broken immigration system and adopting common-sense measures to reduce gun violence."
Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia coordinated the invitations and said on CNN's "Starting Point," "most of the conversation was about debt, deficit, our growing national debt, our fiscal policy and reforming entitlements."
Also at the dinner were Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, 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.
This dinner at the White House came after Obama took a different group of GOP senators out to dinner at a D.C. restaurant amid what some branded his "charm offensive" with Republican lawmakers.
Several families connected to the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, traveled to Washington earlier this week with Obama aboard Air Force One after he spoke on gun violence in Hartford, Connecticut.
The 12 family members were set to meet with lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill this week pushing for universal background checks, restrictions on high-capacity gun magazines and anti-gun trafficking measures.
Collins told Politico by phone that her "heart grieves for those families" and that three handed her photos of their relatives who were killed in the shooting. She put those photos on her desk, she said.
But her lateness was prompted by their late arrival for a meeting with her.
"The Newtown families were very late for their meeting with me," she said, according to Politico.
"I felt a moral obligation to talk with them,” she said. “I kept the president of the United States waiting. I mean, how rude is that of me?
"They thanked me for being willing to vote for cloture, to proceed to the bill," she said. "And mainly I listened to them, talking about their terrible losses."
- CNN's Gregory Wallace, Kevin Liptak, Ashley Killough and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report
She could have skipped the entire dinner. It was nothing but political manipulation, anyway.
Yawnarama. Must me a slow mews day.
There's been so much disrespect shown toward this president, that I almost forgot civility used to exist in Washington. Ms. Collins handled this the way it should have been handled with respect and dignity. Many could and should take a lesson from her. Maybe there is hope in Washington after all.
Bless you susan thank god for a gop member who cares i hope you were given your whole meal
why do legal immigrants need five years to apply for citizenship while illegal immigrants are required to have only three years to gain citizenship? This encourages illegal act.
Glad to see the world didn't end because miss "look at me" can't bother to be on time. And what's with that speech pattern of hers? Painful to listen to.
Don't make emotional and rash decisions concerning the 2nd Amendment rights of EVERY American because of the actions of a few insane people. Gun owners vote and have good memories concerning this matter. Democrats are on notice.
It's not worth anybody's time to proclaim to have found needles in haystacks that are not there.And for somebody to take time to read those lame opinions.
this woman is the only sensible repub left, who doesn't think that trickle down policies in a global market is the only way to go. i think she actually cares about the American people, and doesn't let the money dictates her every move. i guest she knows that money doesn't have any conscience or patriotism.
the juggernaut 24 hour assault on obamacare by fox news and its ilk are ramping up. i guest they figure if they destroy it and put millions on the street, will be great for the repubs party, but if it goes through and it is a hit in 2014, the repub party will be dead. they are working like their is no tomorrow ramping up scaremongering and doing all they can to destroy this law. they've been saying this law will destroy jobs for the past 4 years now, yet we've been gaining jobs for the past 35 month now, which is quickly gaining on a record of straight monthly job growth. this is giving the repubs fits, because they know folks are looking on them as haters and not problem solvers. how can 1/6 of the economy is so terrible and yet their no negative signs of jobs lost, only positive signs of jobs gain. i wonder if we were losing 800 thousand jobs a month like we were doing when Obama took over, with the obamacare under his belt, i wonder what the repubs would have been saying for the past 4 years. hey guys you cannot stop a revolution, who was thinking of stopping the industrial revolution.