White House spokesman Jay Carney denied claims Tuesday that President Obama is reluctantly engaging Republicans on Capitol Hill only because of negative press and sagging poll numbers.
Republicans are circulating a piece in Tuesday morning’s National Journal that quotes an anonymous White House aide casting the president’s new charm offensive to Republican and Democratic lawmakers as “a joke” and a waste of time.
“I hope you all [in the media] are happy because we’re doing this for you,” the aide reportedly said.
Unequivocally denying that the president feels that way, Mr. Carney said no one in the White House has expressed those feelings to him.
“It is not the view of this administration,” he said.
“The president believes that relationships are important, that conversations are important, and he is engaged in that process,” he added. “He has enjoyed his conversations.”
Mr. Carney also gave a preview of the topics Mr. Obama plans to discuss when he visits Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon.
The list of agenda items is long and includes immigration reform, delays in confirming Mr. Obama’s judicial nominations, budget and fiscal issues, as well as Senate Democrats’ efforts to pass more restrictions on guns in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn.
In addition, Mr. Obama plans to commend Senate Democrats for passing the Violence Against Women Act, Mr. Carney said.
A newsier meeting with take place between Mr. Obama and House Republicans on Wednesday, and the president will again travel to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet separately with the Senate Republican and House Democratic caucuses.