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Bush, Pelosi pledge cooperation

After an often nasty campaign, the president and the Democratic leader make nice over lunch.

Published November 10, 2006


WASHINGTON - President Bush made nice with House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi after Democrats gave his Republicans a trouncing on Election Day, but not before handing House GOP leaders a long legislative wish-list for the pending session of Congress.

After a bitter campaign that sometimes got personal between the president and Pelosi, the two had a makeup luncheon at the White House. Appearing publicly in the Oval Office after an hour of private discussions, the pair emphasized common ground.

Neither Bush nor Pelosi, however, completely ignored that they often disagree.

"When you win, you have a responsibility to do the best you can for the country," Bush said. "We won't agree on every issue, but we do agree that we love America."

"We both extended the hand of friendship and partnership to solve the problems facing our country," Pelosi said. "We have our differences and we will debate them ... but we will do so in a way that gets results."

Bush extended the lunch invitation after this week's election, which will put Democrats in charge of the House and the Senate for the final two years of his presidency. Earlier, the president ticked off a to-do list for the current Congress before January's changeover in power.

It included: spending bills funding government's continued operation "with strong fiscal discipline and without diminishing our capacity to fight the war on terror"; legislation retroactively authorizing his warrantless domestic surveillance of suspected terrorists; energy legislation; and congressional approval for a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India.

But with Democrats opposing many of these items, Bush's plea for Capitol Hill to do things his way - which came just a half-hour before his session with Pelosi - could complicate his effort to reach out to Democrats.

Ever since Tuesday's elections, Bush and Pelosi have been pledging to find common ground in a turned-upside-down Washington.

Both sides have much at stake.

The last two years of a presidency are difficult times for any Oval Office occupant. But Bush is heading into that perilous period after an Election Day that pried his party's grip from Capitol Hill, in voting widely seen as a rebuke of him and his leadership, particularly on Iraq.

Democrats, too, have much to lose. If seen as unproductive or obstructionist, they risk losing their majority in two years. How they govern also could impact the party's chances in the wide-open race for the White House in 2008.

Hence all the talk about bipartisanship.

Pelosi, for instance, put any suggestion of impeachment proceedings against Bush "off the table."

Bush signaled readiness to consider Democratic priorities such as a federal minimum-wage increase and to find compromise on renewing the No Child Left Behind education law, overhauling immigration policy and overhauling budget-busting entitlement programs.

[Last modified November 10, 2006, 01:46:03]

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