Obama wooed Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) a lot early in his presidency, first to get her vote on the stimulus package and later seeking her vote for health care reform.
But he doesn't call anymore, and his team hasn't reached out much either, she said.
Snowe, who is up for re-election next year, said the Obama White House has the worst relationship with Congress of any of the six presidents with whom she's served.
"It's a dramatic difference. ... I don't expect the president every day to be calling me or somebody else. [But] I think what you do expect is to have a team that can work through the various issues ... and build a consensus," she said.
Snowe added, "I can understand him using the bully pulpit, you know, to enhance his position, but it can't be to the exclusion of ever working with the legislative branch."
The White House pushed back Friday against the criticism.
"The president and his administration are working tirelessly to create jobs and improve the economy and he welcomes Republican willingness to work with him to pass the American Jobs Act and extend and expand the payroll tax cut," White House spokeswoman Jamie Smith said.
Senior White House officials also say the president and his administration regularly engage with Members. And some who criticized Obama's lack of outreach have been to the White House this year, some of them multiple times.
The White House has repeatedly dismissed complaints, mostly from Republicans, about the president's near total lack of involvement in the failed super committee deliberations, and it has defended the president's weekly bashing of the GOP on their opposition to taxing millionaires to pay for job-creation legislation. Republicans shouldn't be "let off the hook" for blocking the payroll tax cut paid for by taxes on millionaires, Press Secretary Jay Carney said last week.
And allies such as Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have blasted the GOP for walking out of negotiations with the White House three times earlier this year. Democrats generally say Republicans have no one but themselves to blame for getting the cold shoulder.
They point to McConnell's statement that defeating Obama was his top priority, and Democrats believe that the tougher approach is bearing fruit as Republicans splintered on the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits last week.
Snowe said there's blame to go around for this year's gridlock, but Obama deserves his share.
"You have to keep working at it. You know, you don't just give up," she said. "There's only one president."
Like Snowe, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) recalled getting wooed last year when he was a crucial swing vote, but he doesn't recall speaking to Obama this year — about the jobs bill or anything else.
"It hasn't been like before, when he would call me from Air Force One. ... It's too bad because there are a lot of things that we actually agree on," Brown said.
The Massachusetts Senator, who is the most endangered Republican in next year's elections, got a handshake from the president two weeks ago at a signing ceremony on a veterans' jobs bill that incorporated one of Brown's bills. But the president didn't pull him aside for a chat.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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