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Republicans Wonder if Obama Outreach is Just About “Optics”

With President Obama working to open lines of communications with congressional Republicans, many in the GOP are wondering if it's real or just an act.

"This the same guy who just a few weeks ago was hammering us pretty good in his inaugural address and State of the Union on issues that he stands very firm on," said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., today on "Power Play with Chris Stirewalt."

With his job approval ratings down sharply in the past week amid a bruising battle over automatic spending reductions, Obama is trying a different approach. Wednesday, he hosted 12 Republican Senators at The Jefferson Hotel just up the street from the White House. Over foie gras terrine and Colorado lamb açai, the president was hoping to thaw relations with his Republican opposition.

President Obama continued reaching out to Republican lawmakers by hosting lunch today with 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the ranking Democrat Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

Womack, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, pointed out that even if you cut all discretionary spending, the government would still be running a deficit. Womack believes that balancing the budget is not possible without changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, a sensitive topic for Democrats.

Asked whether the president's recent overtures are sincere, Womack replied, "I hope it is genuine. At the end of the day it will be about what it resolves and whether or not it is just optics."

Womack represents Arkansas' 3rd District in the northwest which includes the headquarters of Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and the University of Arkansas.