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Obama Invites Republican Leaders to White House

November 4, 2010 at 5:29 PM EDT
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President Obama invited leaders of both parties for a meeting at the White House later in the month "to talk substantively" about how to work together. Judy Woodruff has more on the bargaining to come.

JIM LEHRER: President Obama took his first steps today on the new political landscape in Washington. He invited party leaders to talks at the White House, as Republicans made it clear that hard bargaining lies ahead. Judy Woodruff has our story.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Hello, everybody.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president met with his Cabinet this morning and made it clear he’s adjusting to the election he called a shellacking, with Republicans taking over the House and gaining in the Senate.

BARACK OBAMA: Obviously, what’s going to be critically important over the coming months is creating a better working relationship between this White House and the congressional leadership that’s coming in, as well as the congressional leadership that carries over from the previous Congress.

JUDY WOODRUFF: To that end, Mr. Obama invited leaders of both parties to join him at the White House on November 18.

BARACK OBAMA: This is going to be a meeting in which I want us to talk substantively about how we can move the American people’s agenda forward. It’s not just going to be a photo-op.

MAN: And Senator Mitch McConnell. Take it away, Mitch.


JUDY WOODRUFF: A short time later, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced that, if the president wants progress, he will have to move toward Republican positions.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Minority Leader: The formula is simple. When the administration agrees with the American people, we will agree with the administration. When it disagrees with the American people, we won’t.

This has been our posture from the beginning of this administration. And we intend to stick with it. If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction.

JUDY WOODRUFF: McConnell also repeated that a top Republican priority will be to limit President Obama to one term.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: If our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill, to end the bailouts, cut spending, and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all of those things is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the House side, Republican Leader John Boehner formally began seeking support to become speaker. And he told ABC News he thinks the president and Democrats are still in denial.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), House Minority Leader: When you have the most historic election in over 60, 70 years, you would think that the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies that they put have forward the last two years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back at the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs signaled possible movement toward Republican demands to extend the Bush-era income tax cuts, even for the well-off.

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS: I don’t want to do the negotiations here, but we’re certainly open to listening to their position, talking about it, and working together to find a — a compromise that moves this issue forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the meantime, the president announced today he will also meet with newly elected governors, most of them Republicans, on December 2.

Current Democratic Governor Pat Quinn was declared the winner today in the president’s home state of Illinois, leaving Minnesota and Connecticut the only outstanding governor contests. There are also 10 House races that remain unresolved, and a pair of Senate races have yet to be called.

In Washington State, Democratic incumbent Patty Murray led Republican Dino Rossi, but nearly all voting was done by mail, and thousands of ballots had yet to be counted. And it could be weeks before Alaska’s Senate winner is named. Incumbent Lisa Murkowski ran as a write-in candidate, after losing to Joe Miller in the Republican primary. The write-in category led the way in Tuesday’s voting, and officials now plan to begin counting those ballots on November 10.