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Former Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), who lost his seat in 2008, said one of the biggest frustrations he hears from his former GOP colleagues is that Obama just doesn’t have “people over to the White House doing the personal relations stuff.”
In addition, he said, the president needs to have some humility, something Coleman said he has yet to see. The former Senator pointed to the drubbing Democrats took on Nov. 2 and said now is the time for Obama to reflect on the message that voters sent.
“His first reaction was, ‘I didn’t communicate.’ Then there was a statement, ‘I got thumped.’ Yeah, that’s a reality, but why? He needs the humility to say, ‘Maybe something I thought is not what other people thought,’” Coleman said.
Obama does have a handful of Republicans he singles out in his speeches for their ideas, such as House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan. He has complimented Ryan for a proposal he released earlier this year aimed at reducing the deficit.
But the Wisconsin Republican, despite often getting name-dropped as a bipartisan ally, maintains that he doesn’t have much of a relationship with the president.
“Most of us don’t know the president very well, so I always try to keep an open mind ... as to what the approach of a person is going to be,” Ryan said Monday on PBS’ “Charlie Rose.”
Ryan called out Obama for treating Republicans like enemies when he is on the campaign trail, only to return to Washington in search of bipartisanship.
“He goes to our districts and says Republicans want the economy to fail so he fails politically,” he said. “I mean, that kind of talk, all these straw men and counterfactual arguments does not make it easy to cooperate and come together on the big issues of the day.”
House and Senate Democratic leadership aides said it wouldn’t matter if Obama bent over backward to have relationships with Republicans, since their No. 1 priority is to remove him from office.
“It’s hard to build relationships when those very people are calling you a socialist and praying that you’ll meet your Waterloo,” one senior Democratic aide said.
Indeed, Voinovich concedes that he has been calling Obama a socialist since Obama ran for office. But it wasn’t intended to be an insult.
“I like socialists,” he said. “They’re all great people.”