Obama, House Republicans Have Cordial but Candid Discussion

Despite differences, the two sides say they're committed to finding common ground on economic issues.

Posted: 03/13/2013 05:31 PM EDT

President Obama and House Republican leaders met Wednesday and described their afternoon meeting on Capitol Hill as "candid," "substantive," and "productive." But, both sides acknowledged, they still have different ideas about how to tackle the nation's economic issues. 

"[There] are some very real differences between our two parties, like issues — jobs, balancing the budget and what do we do to get our economy moving again," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters, citing a balanced budget, long-term debt and energy-related jobs as examples. "But having said that, today was a good start. And I hope that these kinds of discussions can continue. Even though we have very real differences, our job is to find common ground, to do the work the American people sent us here to do."

The meeting was the latest in a series Obama has held with congressional lawmakers, including meals with Republicans from both chambers last week, lunch with Democratic senators on Tuesday and a sit-down with House Democrats scheduled for Thursday. It also was the first time he's met with the entire GOP conference since 2011. Lawmakers have applauded Obama's recent efforts to finally reach out to them, but skeptics wonder if it is little more than a public relations stunt.

On his way out of the Capitol, the president told a gaggle of reporters that he'd enjoyed the meeting.

"He had a good, substantive exchange with members of the conference and enjoyed the conversation," a White House official said in a statement. "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."

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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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