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 Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day 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 Randolph ThuneWeek ahead: Tech giants to testify on extremist content Overnight Tech: GOP senator presses Apple over phone slowdowns | YouTube cancels projects with Logan Paul after suicide video | CEOs push for DACA fix | Bill would punish credit agencies for breaches GOP senator presses Apple on phone slowdowns 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 Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report MORE (R-Iowa). He said he appreciated Obama talking about being “one people” and “one nation under God.”


Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix 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 Henry HoevenGOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller Government needs to help small businesses follow regulations 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 PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 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 RodgersDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Overnight Finance: GOP celebrates as final tax vote nears | Senate expected to pass bill tonight | Why the House needs to vote again | Panel rejects Trump pick to head Ex-Im | All major banks pass Fed 'living will' test Trump congratulates House GOP on passing tax bill 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 Grant HatchKoch groups: Don't renew expired tax breaks in government funding bill Hatch tweets link to 'invisible' glasses after getting spotted removing pair that wasn't there DHS giving ‘active defense’ cyber tools to private sector, secretary says 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.