Obama's outreach to the GOP: Why hasn't it worked before?

But now that he is trying harder — on Tuesday Mr. Obama makes the first of four visits to the Capitol over three consecutive days — Democrats say that his effort will put to the test, or at least expose, what they call the biggest factor of all: Republicans’ resistance to what overtures Mr. Obama does make, whether social or legislative, given the political danger of appearing too close to a president so unpopular with the conservative base.

“I find it sort of hard to stomach the criticism that he has not been reaching out to Republicans,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a Democrat close to the White House…

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had a scheduling conflict that evening, but he has been one of the few Republicans in Congress to have an open channel to the president, a relationship that began when Mr. Obama was a senator. Mr. Coburn, in an interview recently but before the president’s latest outreach, said that such legislative engagement was counter to Mr. Obama’s “personality type.”

“What he doesn’t realize is if he tried a different style, he’d get a whole lot more cooperation,” Mr. Coburn said, adding: “He’s really a neat guy. People don’t know that about him.”

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