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White House: Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game Example of Obama Outreach to Democrats

By Meredith Dake and Steven Dennis

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It goes without saying that no one has meant more to President Barack Obama’s agenda than Nancy Pelosi. So when she abandoned ship and knifed his trade agenda last week at the last minute, it stunned the White House and created a rare, sharp schism at the top of Democratic leadership. Before the vote, Obama mounted a full-court press to court the California Democrat and her flock, attending the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game on June 11 (even bringing cold White House beer) before making an exceedingly rare trip to the Capitol to personally whip votes the next morning. Since then, the president and Pelosi are unofficially on a break. Obama hasn’t called her. The White House, however, used a trip to the game as an example of Obama reaching out to Democrats on the trade issue. Read more at POTUS Operandi. Transcript of the exchange is below, via QUESTION: On a more serious matter… EARNEST: OK. QUESTION: … since the trade vote, has the president spoken to Minority Leader Pelosi? EARNEST: I don’t believe the president has had the opportunity to speak to Leader Pelosi. Yesterday, the president’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, placed a telephone call to Leader Pelosi, but I don’t know of any presidential-level conversations to report (ph) QUESTION: He’s spoken to Speaker Boehner yesterday. EARNEST: That’s correct. They did on a couple of occasions yesterday. QUESTION: Well, why would he not speak to the leader of the Democrats personally because, again, this was an issue that he invested so much personal capital in and you’re aware of the criticism out there that he, despite your denials or objections, is not personally engaged enough in this crucial issue? EARNEST: Well Ron, we — you know, we — all of you had the opportunity to see the president spend time with Leader Pelosi at the Congressional baseball game last week. The president traveled to Capitol Hill to address the House Democratic Caucus on Friday morning. The president was introduced in that meeting by Leader Pelosi directly. Incidentally, after the president was introduced, he received a standing ovation from everybody in the room, including Leader Pelosi. The president had the opportunity to visit with Leader Pelosi for several minutes prior to the beginning of that caucus meeting, so the president’s had a number of conversations with Leader Pelosi, and the president’s going to continue to be in touch with leaders on Capitol Hill as necessary. I certainly wouldn’t rule out a future call to Leader Pelosi. They speak frequently. And — but over the last 24 hours, the president has not spoken to her, but the president’s chief of staff has. QUESTION: But some would see that as an indication that he perhaps is more hopeful, given what was stated publicly, that it would be the Republican side that would push this issue over the top and not the Democrats. Or has he — are you still confident that the Democratic Caucus in the House will prevail — help him prevail on this issue? EARNEST: Ron, what’s clear is that the support of Democrats is necessary to advance this piece of legislation. That was true when Congress tried to pass the rule opening up consideration of the legislation. It was true when there was a vote on trade promotion authority itself that required the support of Democrats to build a majority. We were pleased that 28 Democrats joined with the president to support that piece of legislation, and we’re mindful of the fact that in order to pass TAA legislation that the president believes is critically important to middle class workers all across the country, we’re also going to need bipartisan support for that as well. So yes, the administration has been focused on working closely with Democrats and Republicans to make progress in this regard.

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