In Midnight Call, Obama and Boehner Try to Set Positive Tone
November 3rd, 2010
02:01 AM ET

In Midnight Call, Obama and Boehner Try to Set Positive Tone

Washington (CNN) - President Obama called incoming Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) at midnight to congratulate him on the GOP takeover of the House, as each side moves quickly to show they're ready to work with one another after one of the most contentious midterm elections in history.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs put out a statement noting that Obama also spoke to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and told both men in the separate calls that he wants to work with them to "find common ground, move the country forward and get things done for the American people."
The likely Speaker's aides were just as eager to project an image of comity despite the direct sparring between Obama and Boehner in the heat of the campaign on issues ranging from taxes to national security.

"They had a brief but pleasant conversation," said a statement from Boehner's office. "Leader Boehner said he's always been straightforward and honest with the president in the past, and said that's the way he'll continue to be with the president in the future. They discussed working together to focus on the top priorities of the American people, which Boehner has identified as creating jobs and cutting spending."

The statement quoted Boehner as thanking Obama for the call and adding of the American people: "That's what they expect," in reference to both sides working together.

Aides to Obama said he also placed calls to the current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), who have been knocked out of the majority and now face uncertain futures within the Democratic leadership.

Obama stayed up late in the White House residence keeping a close watch on election returns, according to aides, and knew pretty early in the night that Democrats were going to keep the Senate majority but lost the House majority.

"It was just a matter of how many seats," noted one senior Democratic official familiar with the late-night activity at the White House.

Senior Democratic officials told CNN that Obama was keeping close tabs on television reports as well as other raw data that was passed on by top White House officials like David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, who stayed in the West Wing into the wee hours of the morning to monitor the election that will have a profound impact on the next two years of the administration.

Despite the high stakes involved, an official White House photo of the Obama-Boehner phone call depicted a relaxed commander-in-chief. The President was leaning back casually in a chair and fiddling with his Blackberry with a loosened necktie and rolled-up shirtsleeves as he spoke to the incoming Speaker of the House from his Treaty Room office in the White House residence.

On Wednesday, the back and forth between Obama and Boehner will begin in earnest. The President will have a 1pm ET news conference in the East Room, while Boehner, McConnell and other GOP leaders will have a news conference of their own 90 minutes earlier at the Capitol.

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