White House launching charm offensive with GOP “hostage-takers” now

The GOP chairmen are getting congratulatory phone calls from President Barack Obama, and private meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder. The incoming Agriculture Committee chairman, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), is setting up a regular monthly lunch with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House’s efforts moved into high gear shortly after the Republican victory on Election Day…

In these meetings, Obama administration officials are promising cooperation and straight dealing with the GOP power players, yet there’s also a public relations and political strategy in play — the White House is seeking political high ground and trying to position the Obama administration as willing to work with Republicans rather than succumb to partisan gridlock…

“It’s very smart,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the incoming chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of the White House outreach. Last Wednesday, Mica met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former House Republican colleague. “I know Ray and I have a lot of confidence in dealing with him.”