Obama Lunches With GOP Leadership

By Kristina

Feb 9, 2011 3:37pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Ann Compton report: After emerging from their closed-door lunch with President Obama, Vice President Biden, and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley the new House Republican leadership touted in the White House driveway that there were some areas of common ground found.

“It was a very good lunch, and we're able to find enough common ground, I think, to show the American people that we're willing to work on their behalf and willing to do it together,” Speaker John Boehner said.

The new Speaker pushed – as did the other Republicans in the room – for a cut in spending.

“Our number-one issue is getting the economy going again and getting people back to work,” Boehner said, “And we believe that in order for that to happen, that we need to cut spending, we need to stop unnecessary regulation that's hampering small business's ability to hire people.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president thought the meeting was “very constructive” and echoed that they agreed that there should be a broad discussions about cutting spending and reducing the deficit.

Republican Leader Cantor said there was a “fairly robust conversation” about the need for everyone to work together “to send a signal that we’re serious about cutting spending,” and that there was some agreement on that. 

But, as Cantor said himself, the devil is in the details.

“I guess the particulars and the details will be where the disagreements may  lie,” Cantor confessed, “But we're coming out of this lunch committed to trying to do that, because the economy so desperately needs us to work together to send a signal that we should start growing again as America.”

Republican Whip McCarthy said that the main portion of the entire lunch was talking about the economy.

“We looked to places that we could work together on, from jobs to cutting of government spending,” McCarthy said, “And it was a beginning and a start.  And we look forward to having the president on his word where we can move legislation, where we can create new jobs in America. “

Trade was also discussed.

Gibbs said that the administration would soon send up language around the  South Korea Free Trade Agreement, and they’d soon, “ intensify our engagement” to address both Colombia and Panama “in the hopes that those negotiations could be concluded this year and agreements could then be sent to Congress thereafter.”

“I've made it very clear that the House would   like to consider all of these bills,” Boehner said of Panama and Columbia, “There's a lot of support for South Korea, but there's also quite a bit of support for Colombia and Panama.  And I think it's clear that there's an interest in moving all three.  I would just hope the sooner, the better. “

An aide to Speaker Boehner that the lunch covered a host of topics in just an hour, “so the ability o get into the weeds was obviously inhibited.”

The hot topics of health care and the budget were not discussed in detail, aides say.

-Sunlen Miller and Ann Compton 

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