US President Barack Obama teed off a new bid to court his political foes, hooking up with two Republican senators for a rare Monday round of golf, as Congress headed back to town after a recess.
Obama was lined up to play the course at Andrews Air Force base with Republican senators Saxby Chambliss from Georgia and Bob Corker of Tennessee along with a fellow Democrat, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, a US official said.
The bipartisan foursome represented Obama’s latest public effort to court Republicans in the Senate as he seeks to unpick the ugly political standoff in the chamber and pilot his second term agenda into law.
The president, an avid golfer, has also held a series of dinners with Republican senators and traveled to Capitol Hill to talk to senators and representatives of both parties.
But he has also hit out repeatedly and sarcastically at the delays and political games plaguing his initiatives in Congress and became furious when the Senate blocked his plan for increased background checks for gun owners.
Obama is looking for support to broker a deal with Republicans on debt and deficit reduction — a particular cause of Corker, and is pushing for support for a comprehensive effort to reform immigration laws.
Chambliss is not running for re-election, so is seen by Democrats as a Republican who may be insulated from conservative fury over a plan portrayed by critics as offering “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
Obama’s political enemies frequently lambast the president’s golf games as an unnecessary indulgence in tough times, and took aim especially at a recent Florida weekend which saw the president play a round with Tiger Woods.
He normally tees it up only on weekends, and even though he was traveling on official business at the weekend — in Costa Rica on Saturday and Ohio on Sunday — it is unlikely he would have ventured onto the links Monday without some cover by Republican partners.