House GOP Claims Obama Not Ready to Triangulate

Posted January 29, 2009 at 8:31pm

HOT SPRINGS, Va. – After his party spent a week doing a bit of triangulating, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee told reporters gathered tonight at the GOP’s annual retreat that President Barack Obama did not seem ready to follow suit.

“He’s not ready to triangulate,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), ranking member of the Budget panel. Over the past week, House Republicans have used the stimulus bill that passed on Wednesday, without a single Republican vote, to draw stark contrasts between what they describe as the partisan policies of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the bipartisan approach of President Barack Obama.

“I thought it spoke a lot about [Obama] that he has sat down with Republicans on at least three occasions to talk about this economic legislation and Speaker Pelosi has sat down with Republican zero times,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said.

“Within the three-legged stool of bipartisanship, you had the president saying he would be bipartisan and do what’s right where we can agree,” said House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.). “You had House Republicans saying, ‘Yes, we’ll be bipartisan and make things better where we can, in principle, agree.’ But the stool fell over because the House Democrats did not want that approach.” He added, “We are trying to comply with something the president put forward.”

But while touting their attempts to work with the president, Republicans were still unable to say what concessions Obama could make to attract Republican votes to the final version of the stimulus.

Asked whether there was a tipping point, Ryan said, “I’m sure there is, but it sure does not seem to be in sight.”

Dressed down in jeans and khakis, members of the Republican Conference spent the first day of their retreat at the sprawling Homestead resort discussing the economy and celebrating their unity on the stimulus vote.

Every GOP Member voted against the bill, partially to protest the closed-door partisan way they thought it was initially crafted.

At a dinner headlined by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), Rep. John Shadegg (Ariz.) toasted moderate Republicans for voting with the party despite the fact that it was a tough vote for many in swing districts, according to sources in the room.

Gingrich urged his former colleagues to fight on and praised the leadership of Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

“Terrible things happen to you if you relax and decide it’s OK to be in minority,” he said. “Everyone who wants to win leaves – and the only people left are just comfortable.

“John Boehner is a coach, not a QB. He sits back and thinks about every member of the team. I have a prediction: I believe at a speed that will shock Democrats, that John Boehner will be Speaker.”

Boehner, sources said, showed those gathered in the room a C-SPAN clip of Republicans voting down the bill. The video received a standing ovation