gop leadersEmerging from their first sit-down since Election Day, President Obama and GOP leaders called their White House meeting "productive" and reiterated promises to "work together" on behalf of the American people.
But even as Obama heralded the get-together as a "good start," both sides acknowledged that the true test of bipartisanship lies ahead, as Democrats and Republicans remain strongly divided on issues like an extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts. Obama said that this would be the first of several meetings with him and leadership, including a Camp David retreat.
"None of this is going to be easy," Obama told reporters afterward. "Although the atmosphere in the meeting was extremely civil … there's always going to be political incentive to work against each other, particularly in the current hyper-partisan climate."
In a separate news conference on Capitol Hill after the meeting, incoming House Speaker John Boehner echoed Obama's comments. "We had a very nice meeting today. The question is: Can we find the common ground that the American people expect us to find?"
The meeting, planned to last an hour, ran for nearly two hours. GOP leaders said Obama privately acknowledged that in the most recent Congress he had not reached out to Republicans as much as he should have -- a point he has also made in public interviews. He pledged to work more closely with the opposing party, they said.
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