contentious closed-door meeting failed to budge either side from
“Bipartisanship is not about personalities. We like him fine,” said Senate Republican leader
But, said Sen.
Corker, who tried for weeks to negotiate with Democrats on financial regulation changes, sharply questioned Obama.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, I think there’s a degree of
audacity in your being here today,'” noting that Obama had sought
bipartisanship before but rarely involved Republicans in serious talks
over major bills.
“Financial reform,” Corker said, “we all thought was
doable. When you wake up in the morning and come here for our luncheon,
how do you reconcile that with this duplicity?”
Obama, he said, was “very prickly” and gave a lengthy response. Spokesman
Graham noted, “We haven’t been able to find much bipartisanship here,
the debt situation, it’s very frustrating.”
Obama met with the 41-member GOP
caucus for 70 minutes during its weekly Capitol luncheon. The president
has met with Republican leaders and rank and file before, but he has
won little if any support for his major initiatives.
Officially, everyone was pleasant Tuesday. McConnell
said the meeting was a “good exchange,” and Obama called it “a good,
frank discussion about a whole range of issues.”
But Republicans recounted that the meeting had testy moments punctuated by feelings of mistrust.
“There was frustration on our side,” said Sen.
The meeting reportedly included tense exchanges, and there was no apparent progress on the list of issues before
including reducing debt, creating jobs, fashioning a new energy policy
and, notably, curbing illegal immigration, issues that have sharply
divided the two parties since Obama became president 16 months ago.
“I let the president know you get one chance on
immigration, don’t throw this thing on the floor, because if it goes
down in flames, nobody’s going to touch it for a decade,” Graham said.
McCain, who faces a tough challenge to re-nomination, told the president that “it was not helpful to the debate to have the
Obama has called the law “misguided” and said it
“threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as
Americans.” Opponents have maintained the policy allows racial
Shortly after the Obama meeting, McCain went to the
McCain, who co-authored a 2005 comprehensive immigration overhaul bill with the late Sen.
Obama told the Republican senators that he “would like to do immigration,” according to Sen.
who is facing his own tough re-election bid, has said they would like
to bring up a comprehensive bill this year that would provide a path to
citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.
leaders say they’re in no hurry to bring up immigration because their
members have taken enough tough votes in an election year. An
immigration bill doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the
(c) 2010, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.