About a month ago, President Obama took 12 Senate Republicans to dinner – which the president paid for out of his own pocket – in the hopes of cultivating some better interpersonal relationships with his GOP foes. It was part of a larger outreach effort, which has not yet paid any dividends.
But Obama keeps trying, including scheduling another dinner with Republicans tonight. This time, the RNC isn’t pleased, or at least, is pretending to be unhappy to make some kind of point.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Tuesday criticized President Obama for meeting with Republican senators at an upscale restaurant at a time of sequester-related budget-cutting. Instead, Priebus is offering to order pizza for their get-together Wednesday.
Citing the White House’s sequester-related cuts, Priebus suggested it would make more sense to pick a cheaper meal option and hold the event at the White House to avoid extra security costs.
“Since the president has been complaining loudly about the cutbacks they’ve had to make at the White House – including tours for schoolchildren – due to the sequester, it only seems appropriate that they avoid the considerable security expenses of dining at an upscale restaurant,” Priebus said in a statement. “Instead of eating out as the president and senators did last month, I suggest they eat in.”
First, the preoccupation with White House tours is just so terribly silly.
Second, and more importantly, Priebus launched this little stunt yesterday without bothering to get the facts – he urged Obama to host the dinner at the White House, apparently unaware that the dinner was already scheduled for the White House. The vaunted Republican National Committee research team apparently forgot to check before launching yesterday’s stunt.
RNC missteps notwithstanding, the timing of tonight’s dinner is interesting, given that it comes the same day as the release of the president’s new budget plan, which Obama hopes to be centrist enough to generate interest from, well, the same folks he’s invited to dinner.
The dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. I don’t know whether there will be pizza.