At GOP outreach dinner, Obama picks up the tab

As part of his effort to improve relations between the White House and Capitol Hill, President Obama dined with a small group of Republican senators this evening and, according to the White House, he paid for the dinner out of his own pocket.

Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Dan Coats, R-Ind., Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; are among the senators who joined the president for dinner tonight. The group dined at the Jefferson Hotel a few blocks from the White House.

“The president greatly enjoyed the dinner and had a good exchange of ideas with the senators,” a senior administration official said.

Johnson concurred, saying, “It was an excellent dinner. It was a genuine, sincere open discussion of the fiscal problems facing the nation.”

Johanns said he felt the president was trying to “start a discussion and kind of break the ice” on how to move forward in dealing with the repeated budget battles that keep cropping up.

“Most of the meeting was spent on budget and the way forward and his goal is ours,” he said. “We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis and solving every problem by meeting the crisis deadline.”

“I think he’s very sincere, I think he wants to try to figure something out,” Johanns added.

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