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March 7th, 2013
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Sen. Coats: Obama dinner 'substantive,' but talks have to lead to action

This morning on "Starting Point," Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) weighs in on President Obama's dinner with GOP senators, which he attended, and explains how it could change relations in Washington, DC.

ON THE ATMOSPHERE AT THE DINNER:
It was a cordial dinner, but it was a serious dinner. We talked about the subjects we should talk about, the debt and deficit and plunged into more and more debt through out of control government spending. I was glad the president took the opportunity to talk to us personally. I've been talking to him a lot from the Senate floor. I'm not sure he's listening on CNN and C-Span. It was nice to be across the table from him and be able to express exactly my deep concerns about how we fix this fiscal mess.

ON WHETHER TALKS GOT CONTENTIOUS:
It did not get contentious, but it was serious and we had, I think, a very adult discussion. Instead of being on the campaign trail, the president trying to make his point, we were working together and talking together about the real essence of our problem and how we can get this thing turned from this never-ending short-term fix fiscal cliff stuff into a long-term solution to our fiscal problem. I was pleased that it was that substantive.

O'BRIEN: Senator, hold on one second. I want to turn to my panel for a moment. I'm trying to decide if I like this idea of the negotiation and progress. As the senator described, right, listen, I've been talking to him from the Senate floor meaning the president, and that doesn't seem to be particularly effective. So is it better that you have these sorts of small dinners or should Congress actually work in Congress where they belong?

ON CRITICISM THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA DOES LESS LISTENING, MORE TALKING:
This was just the opposite of what we've seen. Us on our platform trying to get a message to him and him on his platform a lot of times campaigning outside of Washington. This was very substantive. He did listen. It was a very serious discussion and I hope that it leads to action. You know, talk is one thing.

ON WHAT HE THINKS THE OUTCOME OF REP. RYAN AND REP. VAN HOLLEN'S LUNCH WILL BE:
Those are two key figures that are going to have to bring back to their caucuses details of where we need to go. But I think the president's reaching out now, maybe it's a consequence of "The Sequester," all the over hype about this is going to be doom's day for America has not worked.

And I think getting back now to the individual, let's talk about this. Let's get serious and let's do it in a way that we can - obviously we have to come together in the end to produce something, as the president said.

But his reaching out, I think we ought to accept it for what it was and we ought to be thankful that we've had this opportunity and that the president is doing this. As I said, it's got to lead to action. It can't just be talk because the situation we're dealing with is very serious.


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