U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, one of President Obama’s most persistent critics, joined him for dinner at the White House on Wednesday night to talk immigration, the budget and a wide range of other topics.
Not big breakthroughs emerged from the gathering of political foes – which included other Republican senators – but it furthered Obama's attempts to reach across the partisan divide and develop closer personal relationships in hopes of eventually resolving some thorny issues.
Rubio’s staff called it “a positive discussion” without further comment.
More than four years into his presidency, Obama has launched a charm offensive to develop closer ties to his old colleagues in the Senate, plus newcomers like Rubio, a Republican from Florida. Both parties have been chastised by voters for failing to get much done in Washington, revealing the advantages of the past clubby culture of trading horses and getting along.
Participants said the diners discussed deficit reduction, gun control and immigration reform. Rubio, a Cuban-American, is part of a group of eight senators thrashing out legislation to overhaul immigration law.
The White House thanked Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., for "bringing the group together." Isakson called the affair “meaningful.”
The group reportedly included Senate Republicans Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Boozman of Arkansas, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Pat Roberts of Kansas, John Thune of South Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Mike Crapo of Idaho.