January 29th, 2010, 3:14 pm
Posted by Dena Bunis, Washington Bureau Chief

As far as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is concerned he’d rather Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck came to talk to the House Republican retreat in Baltimore today than the President of the United States.

President Barack Obama did an almost unheard of thing – a president of one party going to the retreat of another. He not only made a statement but took some tough questions from the Republican lawmakers.

“The president did a good job of defending the indefensible while he was in the elephant’s den,’’ said Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach. But, Rohrabacher said, “If you honestly believe as I do that his policies are damaging to our country, I don’t think we ended up with something that would be positive towards bringing about the right policies.’’

Obama seemed to have no illusions about where he was and who his audience was.

He opened up his comments with a variation of a famous line from the Godfather, Part II: “Keep your friends close, but visit the Republican caucus every few months.” The original line: “Keep your friends close — but your enemies closer.”

Rohrabacher said he wished the few GOP lawmakers who got to ask questions had focused on broad policy themes rather than bill specifics.

“They had their green eye shades pulled down and focused on bean counting instead of the broader picture.’’

Click here for a full report on the president’s meeting with the GOP.

All was not lost, however, Rohrabacher said; He brought his family with him to the Baltimore retreat, including his triplets.

“My children had the chance to shake hands with the president of the United States. “I was very worried that my five and a half year-olds would be fidgety and wouldn’t act in a way that was respectful for the president. I had the same worry about all my colleagues as well,’’ Rohrabacher said. “Both my children and my colleagues were very well behaved and treated the president with respect.’’

Rep. John Campbell said he thought there was respect all around at the afternoon session.
But no minds seem to have been changed.

“In the end I think we kind of stood our ground and he stood his,’’ said Campbell, R-Irvine.

Campbell said the president seemed to think that because the Republicans might have gotten a few things they wanted in the health care bill that that should have persuaded them to vote for it.

To read entire story, click here.