Politics

Retreat With GOP Will Be Obama-Free

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican member of the Cabinet, feigns being a blocking back for President Barack Obama as he arrives backstage to meet with GOP House leaders before speaking to their issues conference at the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Md., Jan. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican member of the Cabinet, feigns being a blocking back for President Barack Obama as he arrives backstage to meet with GOP House leaders before speaking to their issues conference at the Renaissance Baltimore Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Md., Jan. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)  (This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.)

As the House Republican Conference retreat gets underway in Baltimore Thursday, Fox News has learned that one notable speaker will not be there: President Obama. While it may seem strange to find a Democratic president in the middle of a gaggle of Republicans, that's precisely where Mr. Obama found himself last year.

Back then, the GOP extended an invitation to the president to address conference members. He accepted. The result was contentious.

"I want to stick on the general topic of health care, but ask a very specific question," Georgia Republican Tom Price challenged the president on January 29, 2010. "You have repeatedly said, most recently at the State of the Union, that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions. In spite of the fact --"

"I don't think I said that," Mr. Obama interrupted.

"...I said I welcome ideas that you might provide. I didn't say that you haven't provided ideas," the president retorted.

This year, as Republicans' hand has been strengthened by a majority rule in the House, a source in the Republican Conference tells Fox News that an invitation to the president was never crafted. Indeed, an official at the White House says Mr. Obama did not receive one.

The annual gathering is a chance for members to meet and talk about issues and policies. Yet again, the president's health care plan is at the forefront of Republicans' minds. Now that it's law, many would like it repealed.

Although the commander in chief won't be on the program this time around, there will be notable guest appearances by Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, among others.

The conference begins Thursday and ends Saturday.

Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.