By The Hill Staff - 01/23/07 12:00 AM EST
The White House reached out to Democrats last week in advance of President Bush's planned attendance at a party retreat later this month.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman met members of the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) on Capitol Hill.
NDC chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) said the meeting grew out of a phone conversation Paulson initiated with her over the holiday break.
She described the exchange on the Hill as a "meet-and-greet" event that lasted an hour. The two administration officials talked about trade and budget issues without getting into specifics, she said.
"We talked about how we are moderate Democrats, interested in progressive public policies and committed to … widening the winner's circle," Tauscher said.
Tauscher said she welcomed the outreach but remained skeptical as to whether Bush "understood the message of the election," which was the public's desire for a new direction in the war in Iraq.
The meeting was not the first between the White House and the NDC, whose ranks grew after the election. Bush invited seven members of the NDC and a group of fiscal conservatives, the Blue Dogs, to the White House after midterms.