President Bush, waking up on Wednesday to a new balance of power in Washington, picked up the phone and called House speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi to invite her to lunch.
“They had a very good conversation. He congratulated her on their wins,” deputy White House press secretary Dana Perino said about Bush’s call to Pelosi the morning after Democrats took control of the House in Tuesday’s election.
Bush invited Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democratic leader in the House, to have lunch on Thursday at the White House. Bush also called a handful of other lawmakers and invited House Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, to the White House on Friday for a meeting over coffee.
“In all of those calls, I would say there was a strong spirit of good will and the president said ‘Congresses change, but issues don’t,”’ Perino said.
Recently, Bush dismissed the possibility that Pelosi could become speaker of the House, saying in an interview “That’s not going to happen.”
He set a more conciliatory tone in call to Pelosi at 7:15 a.m. EST.
“I’d characterize it as a very friendly conversation and they pledged to work together,” Perino said.
Bush: 'A good effort'
Before calling Pelosi, Bush called House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
“He thanked him for running strong races around the country —that we fought hard, we have some tough loses, but that we’re going to work together as we move forward,” Perino said.
Bush also spoke on the phone with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the No. 2 Republican leader in the Senate; House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the House Democratic campaign chief.
“He told Emanuel congratulations on a good race. It was a good effort and he’s looking forward to working together,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.
After voting in Crawford, Texas, the president returned to Washington Tuesday afternoon.
He was joined for a dinner of corn bisque and beef loin by political strategist Karl Rove, GOP chairman Ken Mehlman, White House chief of staff Josh Bolten, counselor to the president Dan Bartlett, former Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Brad Freeman, a California venture capitalist and top Bush fundraiser.
They watched the returns in the study of the residence.
Bush made just one phone call on Tuesday night — to Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House GOP’s election effort, who was re-elected.