When Republican Congressional leaders sat down with the President and their Democratic counterparts at the White House Wednesday to talk jobs and the economy, the President accused GOP members of "almost rooting against recovery." One congressional aide said the President also told Republicans in the group they were primarily interested in the unemployment rate because of the 2010 midterm elections.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs did not refute the closed door comments saying "politics has clearly played a role in many of their [Republican's] statements and votes on the Recovery Act." But it was President Obama who played partisan politics during tuesday's economic speech when he blamed the "previous administration" for the budget deficit he inherited. The President repeatedly mentions up how he has had to "clean up somebody else's mess" with respect to the economic downturn.
Gibbs told reporters in Wednesday's briefing that forgetting the past is not reality. "It would be easy to put it all in a box and just forget about it, but we didn't get here overnight... It's not part of the blame game. It's just -- it's a fact of life.
Immediately after the meeting, President Obama spoke about the "less than full bipartisan support" for his stimulus plan but said he wanted to move forward "together." Republican lawmakers expressed their appreciation for the invite. Minority Whip Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) told Fox News, while he was glad the President brought everyone together for the discussion, there are still differences. "There are philosophical differences between the parties. Right now, America is looking for us to get this economy going again. We believe you do that by stepping out of the way, making sure that government doesn't add to the problems that people have right now."
Senior Producer Chad Pergram contributed to this report.