Morning Joe | March 07, 2013
>> right. so willie , question is, do you think last night at the president's dinner with his republican brethren and sisters, do you think the blackberrys came out then?
>> i think when the president's speaking, it's wise to turn the blackberry off. so president obama , as joe said, did share a dinner table last night with 12 top republican senators. something a lot of people have been calling for, more outreach. he did it last night in an effort to side-step the gop leadership by searching for compromise with the rank and file . by most accounts, it was a friendly evening. even though some in attendance have been among the president's toughest critics. it was not intended to really come to a specific plan to deal with the budget or entitlements, but just a chance to begin a little discussion. you see senator john mccain there with a thumbs up as he came out last night. some senators at the dinner expressed hope for a grand bargain to prevent the continuing budget crisis . to prevent it, i should say. it's still a long way off. last night the house easily passed a $982 billion short-term bill to gund the fovt through september. most of the no votes coming from democrats who criticized the plan for keeping in place the automatic spending cuts. the sequester. meanwhile, house speaker john boehner brushed off the idea that he and president obama could work one on one to come up with a big plan.
>> so no more big top -town deals? no more obama/boehner top-down deals or really --
>> those haven't worked very well, if you've watched over the last two years.
>> well, i understand, but hope springs eternal . a lot of people would like a deal out there.
>> yeah, but i don't think it's the way to get to one. you don't have enough member buy-in. listen, two people hiding behind closed doors doesn't replicate a 535 members of congress who are the wisdom of 535 members of congress or for that matter 300 million americans. this really out to be done out in the open. members have a chance to participate. and i think that we need to grow this organically through the house and the senate.
>> kelly o'donnell, a lot of people including some of us around this table then pleading with the president to meet face to face with some republican members of congress at least to get the conversation started. so give the president credit for that. but did anything substantive happen last night, or where do we go from that dinner?
>> willie , i talked to a couple senators who were at that dinner. and this is the power of those personal connections. i heard a more positive tone , a greater sense of optimism than i have in a long time, talking to those same members in the hallways. having a chance to sit down with the president. i was told that every member was able to speak. there was a good give-and-take. real substantive conversation for more than two hours. that there was a really encouraging sign. honest conversation, i'm told, about some of the problems in both parties at getting to some sort of a big grand bargain deal. they talked about taxes. they talked about changes. to medicare. it was really described as very positive and constructive. i was also told that they expect the president will do a similar kind of thing with democratic senators to try to get sort of a framework put together on what to do next, to get to some kind of a bigger deal that would deal with this long-term budget. i was really struck by the positive tone . so a couple of hours spent at dinner might generate some new momentum, some new energy. talking is just a first step, but they said it was a really critical step in being able to hear each other out and that it was described as honest, thorough, very, very positive sense from it that i hadn't heard in a long while.
>> you know, steve, that is, i personally think that's a great move forward. there are a lot of observers in the blogosphere or on twitter who say why does it matter if they like each other? i've never done anything, whether it's been practicing law , whether it's running a business, whether it's been, you know, being in congress, whether it's been being in the media, whether it's been negotiating contracts over the past 20 years, where having that personal relationship before you go in and make the tough choices doesn't make a huge difference. i think this is a great step forward . and i think it's necessary for them to have several of these meetings and get to know each other.
>> i spent 30 years negotiating deals, and i completely agree with you. no matter how difficult the negotiation was going to be, it was always easier if you had a personal relationship , had built some trust, built at least some sense of the other person or the other people before you sat down and tried to get these things done. we can look back and criticize and not criticize the president, but he's done it now. and i think he's on the right path in terms of these contacts. i don't want to be debbie downer after a nice night, but there's still an awful lot of wood to chop. this was a nice meeting among clear-thinking republicans who understand problems. you've got to get through the rest of the senate. you've got to get through the house which, as you know, is unbelievably difficult. it's not a forcing mechanism at the moment. we don't have another cliff in sight. we're still a long -- this is maybe now on the 10 yard line of an effort to get all the way down the field to get something really serious done.
>> and i really do salute the president. i think we are here, though, jonathan, in part because he tried campaigning around republicans. and he saw that didn't work with sequester. that he had republicans that were willing to vote down something or not vote for something even if it might not be in their best interests politically in the short run. and it sounds like he's gone to plan "b." it seems like -- at least for me -- i think it's a hopeful start.
>> plan "b," going around the leadership, talking to these particular senators, the one -- not to be debbie downer like steve, but i wonder, what are the repercussions going to be against those senators for sitting with someone who their base doesn't really like? we've seen lots of republican members of congress go down in a ball of flames because they've either said something nice about the president, agreed with the president on something, or literally allowed themselves to be hugged by the president.
>> i don't know. i think it's -- i think that's silly. i think they should have the courage to tell people, tell their constituents not ruppn away from it. it's the president of the united states . if he wants to talk to me, then i'll go down there. willie , best home field advantage on the planet, the white house . get somebody in the oval office , that's the best home field advantage .
>> let's hope it's a start. this is a nice meeting, but there's a lot of work to do. you've got to get people to compromise on entitlement reform and other people to raise revenue. two things neither side has been willing to do yet. we've heard the first chirps of hope.
>> chirps of hope. churchill said that as the boats were coming back from dunkirk.
>> the title of your next book, willie .
>> chirps of hope.
>> chirps of hope.
>> in this case, you have boehner and mcconnell saying no new revenues, period. read my lips . this is it. it's over. and they're going to have to be new revenues. and there's going to have to be concessions from the white house . how the republicans climb down from that, i don't quite know.
>> that's where you start. you climb down it by saying we had to do it. we had to get a deal. that's why you get them over there. see what their first positions are. and then i think they move. and by the way, mcconnell can find people that republicans -- find enough republicans that will support closing loopholes, you know? the guy knows how to count votes. hey, coming up, we've got a man who was at that dinner, senator tom coburn . he's going to join us. also, we've got mayor cory booker . also former senator bill frist and former white house press secretary , dee dee myers is going to be here. also coming up, espn college basketball analyst jay bilas will be here. also, jim vandehei with the "politico playbook." but first, here's bill karins. he's got a check on the forecast. bill.
>> morning to you, joe. of course, washington, d.c. , everyone was watching you yesterday. everything was shut down for the snowstorm that didn't hit the district inside the beltway. dulles picked up three inches. just outside the beltway. but reagan picked up zero. you saw some snowflakes. it was just too warm during the storm. a lot of your friends just to your west got blockbuster heavy, wet snow. fredericksburg picked up six inches. d.c. was too warm. the same for baltimore through philadelphia. that storm is still out there. it's not done. it's going to linger today. it is affecting coastal areas. high tide is up on the jersey shore and out on new england right now. we're seeing some damage being done. be again, another high tide cycle tonight and tomorrow. it's a little colder in sections of interior new england than it was in d.c. yesterday. that's why providence, north and west of hartford and worcester and all of massachusetts, you're going to get accumulating snows. most likely after dark today. daylight hours, i think the roads will be okay. it is snowing pretty good from boston southwards down to providen providence. the roads should only be wet. when you wake up tomorrow morning , this is how much snow should be out there especially on the grass. the roads will are more slushy. worcester, four to eight, manchester and boston, three to six. providence, three to six. even new york city has the possibility of seeing a slushy inch or two. mostly the grassy surfaces and suburbs outside of new york city is who will have to deal with it. looks like a great start in d.c. i don't think you'll complain about getting no snow after you're going to hit mid-50s this weekend. you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks. [ female