WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama's latest tactic to hammer out compromises with lawmakers as Congress remains gridlocked: Dining diplomacy.
Last night at the Jefferson Hotel here, Obama dined with 12 Republican senators. The guest list was put together by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Today, Obama lunches in the White House Private Dining Room with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the 2012 vice presidential nominee and more important for today, the House Budget Committee Chairman and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) the top Democrat on the panel.
The White House and Congress are deadlocked over the budget, spending and revenues--that's why the sequester kicked in last week, those automatic spending cuts no one really wanted.
Next week, Obama heads to Capitol Hill for meetings with House and Senate Republicans and Democrats. This is part of an Obama reach-out--yes, you could say belated--to rank and file lawmakers who could be open to compromise.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on the CBS Morning News on Thursday talked to host Charlie Rose about the dinner:" Look, it was very constructive. It seemed perfectly normal to have a group of folks talking about the biggest issue our nation faces. And I don't think there was any expectation that something over the next month or six weeks is going to occur, but I think it helped lay a foundation for constructive talks maybe between now and the debt ceiling. But certainly it was very useful, very sincere, very cordial, and a good dinner."
"....So, again, what I would say that the most, I think, salient part about the dinner was, it was a very sincere and open conversation. I think everybody's agreed they're not going to give a readout on policy issues that were discussed, but very helpful. And again, I think it's the kind of thing that most of us thought was a perfectly normal dinner to talk about, again, the biggest issue. And I think it was helpful. I really do."