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Utah's Sen. Hatch pleased to dine with Obama

Published April 11, 2013 9:07 am

Politics • The Utah senator was mum on conversation details.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • President Barack Obama spent two and a half hours with a group of Republican senators Wednesday evening, eating steak and sautéed vegetables as they talked about the three big topics ranging in Washington: the debt, immigration and guns.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was among the group and he appreciated the gesture and the conversation, even if he didn't want to divulge any details.

"As this was a private dinner, Senator Hatch prefers to leave the specifics of the discussion private, but nonetheless was very pleased at the opportunity to meet with the president," said Hatch's spokesman Matt Harakal.

This was the president's second recent dinner with Republican senators. He held a similar event in March at the Jefferson Hotel and this time he asked Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to make the guest list. Instead of dining out, Obama hosted the senators in the White House's Old Family Dining Room.

Among those joining Isakson and Hatch were Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Crapo of Idaho and Mike Enzi of Wyoming.

Afterward, Isakson commended the president for his outreach to Republicans.

"It is critically important that we communicate directly in order to find common ground," he said according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "It's the only way that we can find solutions that are right for American ­— not just a win for the president or a win for Republicans."

A White House official said the conversation was "constructive" and that the president "looks forward to continuing bipartisan conversations in the weeks and months ahead."

The president has dined with all but 21 Senate Republicans, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. The attendees of the two dinners have included most of the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees taxes, Social Security and Medicare. Hatch is the top Republican on that panel.

mcanham@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mattcanham