Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) said he loves President Obama on a personal level, and believes that the president likes him very much, too.
Cao, a Republican elected in 2008 in a heavily Democratic district in New Orleans, said that he gets along very well with Obama on a personal level, though many other GOP lawmakers are more critical of the president.
"I love the president, and I believe he truly likes me," Cao told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in a profile published on Thursday.
Cao has backed Obama on several major initiatives, voting for Wall Street reform and a repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian members serving in the military. Cao also voted for healthcare reform the first time in the House, but pulled his support after restrictions on funding for abortion were weakened in the final version of the legislation.
But despite his good working relationship with Obama, Cao suggested that his dealings with House Democratic leaders have been more frosty. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) "has not approached me once," Cao asserted.
The cozy relationship with Obama could be key for Cao in his heavily African-American district, where he'll face a tough challenge this fall from state Rep. Cedric Richmond (D). A wave election for Republicans could earn the freshman Republican a second term, after he won in 2008 only after scandal took out his predecessor, Rep. William Jefferson (D). The Cook Political Report considers the race a "toss-up" at this point."
As for his relationship with fellow Republicans, he said it was mixed — perhaps in a bid to keep some calculated distance from his party as Cao courts his district's many Democrats.
"You have people you like, you have people you don't like," he said of the Republican Conference.