Republicans: Obama should have reached out more in address

Republican lawmakers criticized President Obama’s inaugural address Monday, saying he failed to reach out to their party.

“I would have liked to have seen some outreach,” said Sen. John McCainJohn McCainTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Booker: 'I love you, Donald Trump' Syria activists cheer Kaine pick MORE (R-Ariz.), who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential race. “This is the eighth [inauguration] that I’ve been to and always there’s been a portion of the speech where [the president says], ‘I reach out my hand because we need to work together.’ That wasn’t in this speech.”

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Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense FCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking How the new aviation law will affect your travel MORE (R-S.D.), a member of leadership, said the speech was “mostly 30,000-foot stuff” that did not extend any olive branches to the GOP.


“It did seem that he wasn’t doing the kind of outreach that he needs to do if he wants to get things accomplished in a second term,” Thune said. “We’ll see how it’s received.”

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense The Trail 2016: Words matter Lobbyists bolting Trump convention early MORE (R-Maine) said she believed Obama intended to reach out to Republicans in his second term, but that the speech strayed too far toward partisan rhetoric.



“I had hoped his speech would be a little less partisan than it was at times, but I nevertheless think he intends to reach out and work together, and I liked the diversity of the program,” Collins said.

Other Republicans likewise offered praise for the address by Obama, who repeatedly talked of the need for the nation, and its government, to come together to solve problems.

“I do come away with hope, as long as from the bully pulpit, he speaks the same way in the days ahead as he did today,” said Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTop senators want details on probe of DNC breach Top Dem Senate hopefuls to skip convention Election to shape Supreme Court MORE (R-Iowa). He said he appreciated Obama talking about being “one people” and “one nation under God.”


Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators to donors: Stick with us regardless of Trump Hopes dim for mental health deal Overnight Finance: Senate punts on Zika funding | House panel clears final spending bill | Biz groups press Treasury on tax rules | Obama trade rep confident Pacific deal passes this year MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2-ranked Republican in the upper chamber, said that he didn’t want to criticize Obama on Inauguration Day.

“He appealed to our better angels,” Cornyn said. “Any differences we have on policy, the president gets a pass on his inauguration.”

Former GOP presidential candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) praised not only the speech but also the president’s move to have congressional leaders at the White House for coffee before the inauguration ceremonies Monday morning. 


“If he follows through with this kind of effort to find ways to work together, we might be very surprised,” Gingrich said. “I didn’t think it was very liberal. I mean, there were one or two sentences obviously conservatives would reject. But 95 percent of the speech, I thought, was classically American, you know, emphasizing hard work and emphasizing self-reliance, emphasizing doing things together.” 


Sen. John HoevenJohn HoevenMajority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention Death threats against senators remained on Twitter for 2 weeks Senate panel approves funding boost for TSA MORE (R-N.D.) said that the White House would need to reach out to Republicans in Congress if the challenges of the debt and deficit were actually going to get addressed.


“The part I liked is when he emphasized working together — that’s what we need,” Hoeven said. “He’s going to have to reach out to make that happen. It can’t be just him saying this is how he wants it done, he’s got to come meet the Congress and work with us to accomplish those objectives.”

 

The president’s speech address did not delve into many specifics of the divisive policy issues facing Washington, though he did emphasize climate change and gave nods to immigration and gun reform legislation.

Several Republicans noted that Obama had made little reference in the speech to the issues like the debt ceiling, the budget and taxes that will quickly threaten to erode whatever good will there might still be at the start of the president’s second term.

“I was pleased to see that in general the theme was about working together as one, but I thought where he missed an opportunity was to go beyond those issues where we know the president stands and talk about how to find common ground,” said Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanThe Trail 2016: One large crack in the glass ceiling Portman secures another union endorsement over Democratic challenger in Ohio Union group backs GOP Sen. Portman in Ohio race MORE (R-Ohio.). “It was as if there was no sense of urgency about what I think are the core issues that we should be addressing as a Congress and as president.”

Following the speech, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersTransforming VA care: A way forward Dozens of GOP lawmakers staying away from Trump's convention GOP House leaders tout health, poverty solutions MORE (Wash.) issued a statement calling on the Senate to put the president’s words into action by passing a budget.


“The president’s eloquent words must be matched with deliberate actions to restore the country’s fiscal health,” she said in a statement.
 

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchTim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Froman: Too early to start trade talks with the UK Bacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics MORE (Utah), the longest-serving GOP senator, said there were certainly things he differed with in the speech, but that overall he found a positive message. “It was a ‘together’ agenda, as far as I can see,” Hatch said.
 

He was less certain whether the speech would actually lead to more bipartisanship in the 113th Congress.
 

“Let me put it this way: I think we’re going to have some very interesting times, some very trying times,” Hatch said.


— Elise Viebeck, Erik Wasson and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.

— Updated at 8:15 p.m.