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President Obama Hosts Several Republicans for Dinner

President Obama hosts several Republicans for dinner to ease tensions

If phone calls and debate can't do it, maybe dinner can. 

Last night, in an attempt to deal with the deficit and prevent a government shutdown, President Obama sat down with nearly a dozen republicans at a swank Washington D.C. hotel.

The White House picked the Jefferson Hotel's dining room for two reasons: First because it's billed as super-private and second, because unlike the White House, this was neutral ground. 

The President's dinner with Republicans got a "thumbs up". Afterward, Senator John McCain, and others were optimistic: "I'm encouraged by the Presdient's outreach. I hope it bears fruit," said Senator Lindsey Graham, (R) South Carolina.  

The goal, the White House says, was to emphasize the President's willing to compromise, and to bring down the heat between the president and the GOP - not only on budget issues, but also gun control and immigration. "It's tough sledding. It's just very tough sledding." These are very difficult issues but I do think there's a real fatigue in just going from crisis to crisis," said Senator Mike Johanns, (R) Nebraska.  

These are the 11 Republicans the White House thinks may be willing to compromise. 

Republicans passed a budget that keeps last year's spending - and the sequestration cuts - in place. "Call it the 'Ryan budget on steroids.' It's gonna cut Medicare, food stamps and nearly every non-defense, discretionary program funded by the Federal government," said Rep. Jim McGovern, (D) Massachusetts.  

"It's time to let those savings work their magic on the Amercian economy." Rep. Michael Burgess/ (R) Texas  

"Our goal here is to cut spending, not shutdown the government," House Speaker John Boehner/ (R) Ohio

53 Democrats supported it, and 14 Republicans voted against it. 

As for the dinner, the White House says the President paid for it personally - out of his own pocket. 

Tracie Potts, NBC News.

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