After weeks of blaming Republicans for the sequestration impasse that left the nation facing $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, President Obama launched an unexpected charm offensive, treating 12 Republican senators to dinner Wednesday where they discussed fiscal and other matters but came to no solid agreement.
Republican senators left feeling optimistic. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told The Hill the meeting heavily focused on “a way forward on the fiscal issues.”
“We talked about a lot of issues, but really it was just a constructive conversation about a way of moving ahead and solving our nation’s fiscal issues in general,” Corker said. “It was not a negotiation, if you will -although lots of issues were discussed.”
The senator suggested the president was interested in the so-called “grand bargain” rather than taking sequestration piecemeal.
“It was on dealing with the big issue of solving our fiscal problem and it was a constructive meeting,” Corker said. “It was a very positive meeting, it really was.
“I think meetings like this are helpful and I think they build relationships,” Corker added. “It was as social a meeting as you would find anywhere.”
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma both flashed the ‘thumbs up’ sign to reporters outside the Jefferson Hotel after dining with Obama and a dozen other senators for more than two hours.
When asked by another reporter how the dinner went, McCain jokingly said “terrible,” before adding that the event went “just fine,” the Associated Press reports.
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