The White House is now latching onto the idea having a Bourbon Summit with the incoming majority leader of the Senate.
At the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Obama responded to criticism that he didn’t interact with Congress like Bill Clinton by quipping, “Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell!”
McConnell responded with an “empty chair” tweet — smiling and gesturing to the empty barstool next to him while enjoying a tall glass of beer.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Obama was asked if he really should. ABC’s Jon Karl noted that McConnell’s office told him that, in Obama’s six years as president with the Kentucky Republican as the Senate minority leader, they’ve only met one-on-one once or twice.
“Are you going to have that drink with Mitch McConnell now that you joked about it at the White House correspondent’s dinner?” Karl asked.
“You know, actually, I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell. I don’t know what his preferred drink is, but you know, my interactions with Mitch McConnell, he — you know, he has always been very straightforward with me,” Obama replied.
“To his credit, he has never made a promise that he couldn’t deliver. And you know, he knows the legislative process well. He obviously knows his caucus well. You know, he’s always given me, I think, realistic assessments of what he can get through his caucus and what he can’t. And so, I think we can have a productive relationship.”
This morning, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he didn’t know if there will be booze at tomorrow’s lunch with Obama and McConnell.
“Will there be an opportunity for the president and the incoming majority leader to share a glass of bourbon? I think that may — that may happen,” Earnest told MSNBC. “It may not happen in front of the cameras. But if there’s an opportunity for the two men to sit down in a more private setting, I think the president will welcome that opportunity, too.”
Earnest told Fox voters “aren’t just looking for the president to sit down to have a drink with Mitch McConnell or play a round of golf with Speaker Boehner.”
“They actually want results. And if there are things that the president can do differently to make sure that we’re getting results for middle-class families, for the American people, then he’s willing to change his tactics to do exactly that,” Earnest said.
“So if that means another round of golf with Speaker Boehner — the president jokingly described it as letting Speaker Boehner, who’s an excellent golfer, by the way, win a round of golf, then he’s willing to do that. If it means sitting down at the table and enjoying some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell, if that’s gonna advance our ability to find common ground among Democrats and Republicans, the president will do that as often as — as is necessary.”
The lawmaker who has handed Obama the biggest upset on the golf course is retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who sunk a hole-in-one versus the president during a round in 2013.
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) April 29, 2013