Rep. Paul Ryan said that a Thursday lunch with President Obama at the White House was the first conversation between the two men that lasted more than a few minutes.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had a conversation with the president lasting more than, say, two minutes or televised exchanges,” Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “So I’ve never really had a conversation with him on these issues before. I’m excited that we had this conversation — we had a very frank exchange. We come from different perspectives; I ran against him in the last election. So we exchanged very different frank, candid views with one another that were very different. But at least we had this conversation.”
Mr. Obama had dinner with Republican Senators last week, many of whom also expressed optimism after the meal about the president’s so-called “charm offensive” and engagement with members of Congress. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat and ranking member of the House Budget Committee, was also at the Thursday lunch.
But Mr. Ryan said whether the two parties end up coming together on issues such as the budget and tax reform will depend on Mr. Obama.
“Will he resume the campaign mode, will he resume attacking Republicans and impugning our motives, will he resume what is long believed to be a plan to win the 2014 elections, or will he sincerely change and try and find common ground, try and work with Republicans to get something done?” Mr. Ryan said. “That’s what we hope happens.”