Party Time

Frank Luntz, Ray LaHood & More at the Newsweek Daily Beast Bipartisan Brunch

Guests at The Daily Beast bipartisan brunch give President Obama their best advice. By John Avlon.

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.’”

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.”