It took President Obama 18 months to invite the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, to the White House for a one-on-one chat. Their Aug. 4 session in the Oval Office — 30 minutes of private time, interrupted only when the president’s daughter Malia called from summer camp to wish her father a happy 49th birthday — was remarkable, not for what was said, but for what it took to make it happen.
Not long before the meeting, Trent Lott, the former Republican Senate leader, lamented to his onetime Democratic counterpart, Tom Daschle, that Mr. Obama would never get an important nuclear arms treaty with Russia ratified until he consulted top Republicans. Mr. Lott, who recounted the exchange in an interview, was counting on Mr. Daschle, a close Obama ally, to convey the message; lo and behold, Mr. McConnell soon had an audience with the president.
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