Republicans, For Lunch
...the President did something unusual in American politics – initiated an open dialogue with members of the opposite party. Visiting the House Republican retreat, he took questions on anything they wanted to talk about. He heard them out, acknowledged where they were right, and gave a genuine explanation where he felt they were wrong.
Remarks by the President at GOP House Issues Conference
Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel
Baltimore, Maryland — January 29, 2010
Excerpts from speech:
Part of the reason I accepted your invitation to come here was because I wanted to speak with all of you, and not just to all of you. So I’m looking forward to taking your questions and having a real conversation in a few moments. And I hope that the conversation we begin here doesn’t end here; that we can continue our dialogue in the days ahead. It’s important to me that we do so. It’s important to you, I think, that we do so. But most importantly, it’s important to the American people that we do so.
- - - - -
But I don’t believe that the American people want us to focus on our job security. They want us to focus on their job security. I don’t think they want more gridlock. I don’t think they want more partisanship. I don’t think they want more obstruction. They didn’t send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel-cage match to see who comes out alive. That’s not what they want. They sent us to Washington to work together, to get things done, and to solve the problems that they’re grappling with every single day.
- - - - -
Now, here’s the point. These are serious times, and what’s required by all of us — Democrats and Republicans — is to do what’s right for our country, even if it’s not always what’s best for our politics. I know it may be heresy to say this, but there are things more important than good poll numbers. And on this no one can accuse me of not living by my principles. A middle class that’s back on its feet, an economy that lifts everybody up, an America that’s ascendant in the world — that’s more important than winning an election. Our future shouldn’t be shaped by what’s best for our politics; our politics should be shaped by what’s best for our future.
- - - - -
Bipartisanship — not for its own sake but to solve problems — that’s what our constituents, the American people, need from us right now. All of us then have a choice to make. We have to choose whether we’re going to be politicians first or partners for progress; whether we’re going to put success at the polls ahead of the lasting success we can achieve together for America. Just think about it for a while. We don’t have to put it up for a vote today.