Obama suggested he felt burned in his first term after playing a round of golf and spending months trying to warm up House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) over a grand bargain on the debt, only to be “left at the altar,” in the president’s words. After those negotiations failed in the summer of 2011, Obama adopted a more confrontational posture, putting forward uncompromising policy proposals and using public pressure to beat up the opposition.
But lately, he has changed tactics. Instead of embracing one-on-one talks with Boehner, he is trying to win over a wider range of lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, where White House officials think having broad support gives them the best chance of getting a proposal through the Republican-controlled House.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the dinners and conversations the president has initiated are aimed at sketching out the possible parameters for a broad budget agreement rather than pressuring lawmakers. “This is not a lobbying drive that he’s waging,” she said.