The Daily Beast bipartisan brunch, in partnership with Credit Suisse, lived up to its billing: Democrats, Republicans, and independents, shoulder to shoulder at Cafe Milano, chowing down and toasting the start of a new term.
With the second inaugural address one day away, I asked some of the assembled what they were hoping to hear from President Obama.
Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and author of Words That Work: The president should say “We’re not Republicans. We’re not Democrats. We’re Americans. And I extend my hand”—as he actually physically does it—“I extend my hand to the speaker, the minority leader of the Senate and their colleagues. Let us make a commitment on this great day to get great things done for great Americans.’”
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Ray LaHood, Obama administration transportation secretary and Illinois Republican: “We need to really come together here in Washington and work together because that’s what the American people want.” Why should we have any rational hope of that? I asked. “Because we didn’t go over the fiscal cliff. Because the president, vice president, the leaders of Congress came to an agreement. They did it at the 11th hour; now they need to start at the 12th hour and move on and continue to make progress.” Fair enough. My final question: are you going to stay for the second term? “There’ll be more to say about that later.”
Laura D’Andrea Tyson, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Clinton administration: “That we’ve put in place the foundation for a stronger, sounder, fairer economic recovery. I think the administration in the first term did a number of incredibly important things to get the foundation together … A lot of discussion is about the long-term budget. The long-term budget is basically health care. Every single thing that we know how to do about controlling cost is in the health-care-reform legislation. We should speed it up … I’m optimistic we can get the cost turned in a serious way and that’s the most important long-term issue.”
Christopher Howard, president of Hampden-Sydney College: “It should be an inspirational talk, I mean, this is a time to put away the sort of bitter partisanship and politics and think about the United States of America … I’m looking forward to a talk about unifying ideas in the United States of America and I’m excited about it.”
Gene Sperling, director of the Obama administration National Economic Council: “Really good staffers don’t comment on the president’s inaugural address 24 hours before.”