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>> My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding.>> President Donald Trump lunching with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday, hoping to patch up their prickly relationship and get together on their one overriding goal, tax reform. I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where Trump is trying a new tack with McConnell, one of his top frenemies in Washington.
They're breaking bread rather than breaking the Internet. Trump's been hurling insults at McConnell on Twitter since this summer, when their long-promised effort to repeal Obamacare fell apart in the Senate. McConnell responding that Trump suffer from excessive expectations. The taunts widening a GOP split between grassroots populus and party leaders who, so far, have been unable to get any major legislation through Congress.
>> We've been friends and acquaintances for a long time.>> The two proclaiming their unity at a Rose Garden press conference, saying that, despite their public spat, they now talk frequently as they try to overhaul America's 70,000-page tax code before the end of the year.>> We are together, totally, on this agenda to move America forward.
>> But to get there, they first need to get past a major make-or-break vote in the Senate this week that will determine whether Republicans can pass their tax overhaul without any help from the Democrats. And it's not clear whether McConnell will be able to round up the votes.
A truce between these two could go a long way. McConnell can't afford to lose more than 2 votes from his 52 Republicans. But Trump's been kindling feuds with many of them, taking aim at Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, who has likened the White House to a daycare center, and Arizona Senator John McCain, who helped kill the health care bill earlier this year.
Trump inviting Kentucky Senator Rand Paul out to the golf course over the weekend to try and win him over.>> Maybe, with the exception of a few, I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate.>> Trump pushing more onto Congress' plate last week. Lawmakers likely will have to weigh in after the president scaled back Obamacare payments and decertified the Iran deal.
Spending issues will surface in the coming months as well, making it harder to keep the focus on taxes. With so many question marks, Trump and McConnell need to be pulling in the same direction on tax reform. They're both acutely aware that failure could lead to a heavy toll in next year's midterm elections.
It's safe to say that the impulsive Trump and the cautious McConnell will never be best buddies. But at least now they appear to be recognizing that they're on the same team.>>