January 29th, 2010
06:40 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Pres. Obama, GOP Face Off at Retreat

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

There was a rare moment in politics today. President Obama and House Republicans agreed to a face-to-face Q-and-A session on live TV. It took place at the House caucus retreat in Baltimore.

The showdown was tense, at times; and as you'd expect there was some laughter and sarcasm.

"I'm having fun, this is great," Obama said when Indiana GOP Rep. Mike Pence asked if he had time for more questions. "So are we," Pence replied.

The Republicans and Obama criticized each other in the session over various issues linked to the economy.

Another hot topic: the battle over health care.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah said the president reneged on a campaign promise to televise the debate over health care reform.

"You talked a lot about this deficit of trust. There's some things that have happened that I would appreciate your perspective on, because I can look you in the eye and tell you we have not been obstructionists. Democrats have the House and Senate and the presidency. And when you stood up before the American people multiple times and said you would broadcast the health care debates on C-SPAN, you didn't. And I was disappointed, and I think a lot of Americans were disappointed," Chaffetz said.

Pres. Obama admitted some mistakes.

"Look, the truth of the matter is that if you look at the health care process - just over the course of the year - overwhelmingly the majority of it actually was on C-SPAN, because it was taking place in congressional hearings in which you guys were participating. I mean, how many committees were there that helped to shape this bill? Countless hearings took place. Now, I kicked it off, by the way, with a meeting with many of you, including your key leadership. What is true, there's no doubt about it, is that once it got through the committee process and there were now a series of meetings taking place all over the Capitol trying to figure out how to get the thing together - that was a messy process. And I take responsibility for not having structured it in a way where it was all taking place in one place that could be filmed, Obama responded.

Other times, some Republicans peppered their questions with conservative talking points. The president listened, but would cut in to share his thoughts.

"I know there's a question in there somewhere, because you're making a whole bunch of assertions, half of which I disagree with," Obama said to Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

Pres. Obama also got his message out.

After the event, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said "In some places I kind of felt like I was in my high school assembly being lectured by my principal."

The president likely hopes this part of his message was heard:

"I think both sides can take some blame for a sour climate on Capitol Hill. What I can do maybe to help is to try to bring Republican and Democratic leadership together on a more regular basis with me. That's, I think, a failure on my part, is to try to foster better communications even if there's disagreement. And I will try to see if we can do more of that this year, " Pres. Obama told the GOP lawmakers.

Join us for the raw politics and tonight's other headlines from Haiti and beyond at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Kathy H

    Having watched this I can say with all honesty that this was one more of Obama's photo ops that lasted longer then most and made him look good but as usual he will not hear what the GOP leaders and those they serve are saying.
    This President more then any others is focused on bringing his numbers up while working behind the scenes to achieve his goals which have nothing at all to do with the good of the country.
    His agenda is a product of the radical liberal socialist ideas he has learned his entire life from the people he chose as friends and his ultra liberal family
    All I can say to the American people is good luck

    January 30, 2010 at 2:07 am |
  2. Dave in CT

    Obama did what he always does, says whatever we help his poll numbers and cater to his audience. The minute he turns around he has no intention of working with republicans.
    His speech was more of the same. Blame Bush, He takes no ownership of the mess he and the other liberal dems have made. He even implied that he had nothing to do with the healthcare debockle, it was all the congress, not him.
    If that is true for him then he shouldn;t blame bush either because the dems have been in charge of house and senate, writing the legislation that has resulted in the economic nose dive.
    2010 and 2012 will be the end of liberal policy. American people don;t like what the dems have been forcing through. they're all done.

    January 30, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  3. nina

    Anderson, i am so mad about this whole health care debacle!! Both sides make me sick. The American people will never know the real truth. The Republicans did nothing for health care in all their years, and now the Democrats can't seem to get it going either. It seems like they are all more interested in having their own way. Mean time, we the people are we the poor who can't afford decent care unless we have great jobs that cover us!! i think we should all rebel and force these officials to do something. Only are rich are happy about the way the country is being run, the poor are still poor, the middle class are being sucked dry!! We must demand change or we will soon be like the third world countries!!!

    January 30, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  4. Susan Price

    We skirt the issue that America is an expensive place to live. We enjoy a lot of amenities that other countries do not. With the abolition of the taxes and ushering in the "Free Trade Agreement" we started to see businesses migrate to countries with a cheaper overhead and fewer government regulations. If we wish to keep "min. wages" unions, and government rules for clean air... we either need to bring up the other countries to our level. Or charge them for not playing on ours. We will never be able to compete when there are no regulations abroad and they are not willing to compete on the same level with the same regulations. It needs to be cheaper to produce and sell over here than over there. "Free Trade" It was a noble idea ahead of it's time. But they either will drag us down to their level(cost of living) or we need to bring them up to ours. why have we skirted this issue?

    January 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
  5. K. Reeder

    Contrary to the comment on President Obama trying to please the republicans, he appeared to be calling them out on their false or exaggerated assertions. That is an easy mistake because he is a master of diplomacy. Whenever you hear someone precede a sentence with "with all do respect" be prepared for a dart or spear to come flying across the room. The liberals and the conservatives will never totally agree, but if solving some of the problems most of the time by our leaders trumps over seating the winners of the blame game we will have witnessed a paradigm shift in politics as we know it.

    January 29, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  6. Conserve' for USA

    The funny thing is the President seems genuine at times. If he would do what he said he was going to do, things would be a lot different. The country is very leary of him. He has only been President for a year and what he has said during this time and what he has done, is two different things. Maybe he will change. The whole country is watching!

    January 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm |
  7. veticaid

    In RE: Haiti, Out of adversity always comes impovement.

    January 29, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  8. Cecil

    V Wolsk, you don't understand........those Republicans didn't lose. They are also duly elected representatives of Americans who expect to be repesented. The President and ALL of Congress are suppose to represent all of us Americans.

    January 29, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  9. veticaid

    It's like Dr. Bill McCall (CIA/Ret) used to say, "There's nothing better than expressing your position in the free market place of ideas.
    That's what democracy is all about". Prez Obama is entitled to the same no matter what party or affiliation. Just put it out there and let the folks decide.

    January 29, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  10. V Wolsk, New York City

    I think Obama is trying too hard to please the Republicans instead of pleasing us his constituents, the ones who voted for him. I want to see him do more strong leading and decision-making instead of trying for so much consensus. We all voted for him because we believed in him and what he said; we didn't vote for those who lost.

    January 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    Having seen some of the debate between Obama and the GOPs it was pretty good – tense at times. I'm looking forward to seeing more and hearing the pundits give their interpretation of what was said. Hearing more about Haiti and seeing what some of the people who have gone there to help out are doing will be appreciated. Some of these people I'm starting to see at pretty much each bad disaster – its inspiring.

    January 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm |

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