President Obama, returning to Washington from his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, urged House and Senate GOP leaders to put partisan politics aside in the name of working to boost the economy.

The president said aboard Air Force One he hoped incoming House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerLobbying World 'Ready for Michelle' PACs urge 2020 run News Flash: Trump was never going to lock Clinton up MORE (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Communities struggling with decline of coal can’t wait any longer on RECLAIM Act Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama MORE (R-Ky.) "will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012," according to a pool report.

"And that our job this year is to make sure that we build on recovery," he added. "We started making good progress on that in the lame-duck, and I expect to build on that progress when I get back.”

Obama was asked by reporters during a surprise visit to the press cabin about the House vote next week to repeal his signature healthcare legislation, and whether he expected to get a chilly reception on the Hill.

“I think that there’s gonna be politics, that’s what happens in Washington," he said. "They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time. But I’m pretty confident that they’re going to recognize that our job is to govern."

Obama will be back in Washington Tuesday, one day before the swearing-in of the 112th Congress.