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(NECN/NBC News: Tracie Potts) - If phone calls and debate can't do it, maybe dinner can. Wednesday 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 DC hotel. It was a working dinner to get these two sides closer to a compromise.
The White House picked the Jefferson Hotel's dining room, first of all because it's billed as super-private and secondly because it’s neutral ground, unlike the White House.
The President's dinner with republicans got a "thumbs up" afterward from Senator John McCain, and others were optimistic:
"I'm encouraged by the President's outreach. I hope it bears fruit," said Senator Lindsey Graham.
The goal, the White House says, was to emphasize the President's willing to compromise and to bring down the heat between President Obama 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.
These are the 11 republicans the White House thinks may be willing to compromise: Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Sen. Richard Burr, Sen. Dan Coats, Sen. Tom Coburn, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John Hoeven, Sen. Ron Johnson, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Pat Toomey.
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.
"It's time to let those savings work their magic on the Amercian economy," said Rep. Michael Burgess.
"Our goal here is to cut spending, not shut down the government,” said House Speaker John Boehner.
Fifty-three democrats supported it; 14 republicans voted against it.
As for the dinner, no one's expecting a quick deal from that. By the way, the White House says the President paid for it personally, out of his own pocket.