By Justin Sink - 03/15/13 12:34 PM EDT
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday that he hopes President Obama's charm offensive is sincere but that he doesn't know "what is inside his head."
"I certainly hope he is sincere in wanting to reach out and work with us, because there are some things that we really do share in common, and I think most people would expect when you have differences, you learn to set them aside and reach for where you have common interests," Cantor told Fox News on Friday.
Cantor spoke two days after Obama met with the House GOP conference and one day after the president met with Senate Republicans. Obama held meetings with all four caucuses on Capitol Hill this week.
"I hope so. I really do," the Virginia lawmaker said. "I don't know what is inside his head, and what he's thinking. I hope so."
Obama discussed his willingness to reach a deficit reduction deal with Congress, and said it would require Republicans to offer concessions on taxes and Democrats to offer concessions on entitlements.
A White House official said Wednesday that Obama "appreciated" the chance to speak with the Republican caucus.
"He had a good, substantive exchange with members of the conference and enjoyed the conversation," the official said. "The president handled a variety of questions on a range of topics from the members and reinforced his strong desire, especially now that the election is over, to find bipartisan common ground on a range of legislative priorities. He noted that they did not need to resolve all policy differences to make progress on challenges facing the country where there is agreement."
On Friday, Cantor suggested that the two sides should table discussion of new tax revenues and focus on spending cuts where they agree. Republicans have said they want only spending cuts to offset the sequester, an $85 billion set of automatic cuts that both sides worry could damage the economy.
"Many of the things we're talking about is in the president's own plans and his proposals," Cantor said. "So if we know we disagree on raising taxes, because the president says that needs to happen first and he wants to hold all other things hostage, we don't think that's a smart thing to do, so let's at least go to where we can go together and have some agreement."