Graham on Obama invite: 'How do you say no to the president?'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) praised President Obama for reaching out to organize a private dinner with a group of Republicans on Wednesday night. 

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Graham, speaking a few hours before he and a number of other Republican senators were to dine with Obama at D.C.'s Jefferson Hotel, said the president called him and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) a few weeks ago asking them to gather some Republican senators for a sit-down meeting. 

"The president called Sen. McCain and myself a couple of weeks ago," Graham said. 

"I'm assuming the president wants to talk seriously about the issues of the day. And if he just wants to have a dinner so we can get to know each other better that's fine with me," he added. "So how do you say no to the president, who would like to have dinner with some of your colleagues? You don't. And anybody who would do that in this business is in the wrong position."

McCain and Graham recently met with Obama at the White House to discuss immigration reform. 

Graham said Obama was doing the "right thing" by reaching out to Republicans.

"So when the president asked that I get together a group, I willingly did, and I was honored to try to do that. Where this goes I don't know," Graham continued. 

"I do believe what the president has been doing lately, getting off the campaign trail, back in to the normal business of doing business up here, talking to each other — I can't think of any major accomplishment in America in the private or public sector where no one ever talked to each other. So I want to compliment the president for reaching out. I think he's doing the right thing. We need to stop the campaign — the election is over."

According to CNN, the senators invited to dinner include Graham (S.C.) and Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), McCain, Dan Coats (Ind.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and John Hoeven (N.D.).

Graham suggested that he would try and discuss entitlement reform with the president. 

"If we don't fix entitlements, they're going to consume all the money we send to Washington in the future and Medicare and Social Security is going to collapse," Graham said. "And I think the president knows that also. 

"I have publicly said that I am willing to do more revenue if we can bend the entitlement curve, and I'm just speaking for myself. There are other senators that are going to be giving their views to the president tonight — they'll probably try and talk some sense into him and he'll try to talk sense into us. I am encouraged by the president's outreach. I hope it bears fruit. But I know this: if we never talk to each other I know exactly what's going to happen. This country's going to fail."