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Obama's 'try anything' bid to woo GOP moves from dinner to golf course

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

(Read caption) President Obama, far right, with from left to right, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia, Sen. Mark Udall (D) of Colorado, and Sen. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee, on the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Monday.

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In an effort to build support for his second-term agenda, President Obama hit the golf course Monday with two Republican senators – part of what White House spokesman Jay Carney said is a “try anything” approach.

The president left the White House on an overcast Monday at 12:23 p.m. for the 21-minute drive to the golf course at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The golfing foursome included Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, as well as Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.

The White House acknowledged that the golf excursion was part of its outreach to Republicans in Congress, which also included a dinner with a bipartisan group of women senators and two dinners with Republican senators. The administration is trying to build support for Mr. Obama’s second-term agenda, which includes immigration reform and an agreement to deal with America's fiscal woes.

“He is willing to try anything,” Mr. Carney said at Monday’s press briefing. “And whether it’s a conversation on the phone or a meeting in the Oval Office or a dinner in a restaurant or dinner in the residence, he going to have the same kind of conversations."

The president loves to golf but rarely uses it for political purposes. He has played golf 121 times during his presidency, triggering some criticism, says CBS correspondent Mark Knoller, who tracks presidential activities. But Monday’s outing is only the fourth time he has invited a member of Congress to join his golf foursome, Mr. Knoller says. The other times have been once with House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio and two invitations to Rep. James Clyburn (D) of South Carolina.

Monday’s golfing partners have dual appeal: They are good at the game and seen as key to reaching a bipartisan agreement on a deficit reduction package. Golf Digest’s 2011 survey of Washington’s best golfers ranked Senator Udall 11th, Senator Corker 12th, and Senator Chambliss 37th, according to USA Today’s David Jackson.  Obama’s ranking in the same survey: 108th.

Chambliss has made a multiyear effort to craft a bipartisan budget reduction package. So far, as The Wall Street Journal notes, that effort has not led to a grand bargain that Obama seeks. For his part, Corker said in March that he would be open to raising tax revenue as part of a broader deal that makes changes in Social Security and Medicare.  

There is no word yet on what progress the golfers made on policy issues. The press pool accompanying the president was able to only briefly observe the golfing action. On the first green, Obama chipped his first shot past the hole and “later appeared to miss a putt,” said pool reporter Bartholomew Sullivan of Scripps Howard News Service.

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