Updated at 9 am EST, March 7
The food, at least, must have been good.
The Republicans who dined with President Barack Obama tonight were holding thumbs up on their way out of the Jefferson Hotel this evening.
Sen. John McCain, the senior Arizona Republican who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama, then the junior senator from Illinois, was among those invited to the dinner with a dozen lawmakers several blocks from the White House.
Asked how it went, on his way out, McCain flashed thumbs up.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma? Thumbs up.
Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Bob Corker of Tennessee also filed out, well fed on a cold, rainy night in a town that was supposed to be snowbound.
This was an unusual event, a show of bipartisan socializing staged in a capital riven with political conflict.
But it was not an all-male event.
Among the Republican diners: Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — the only woman among the dozen senators: McCain, Coburn, Toomey, Corker, Lindsey Graham, Dan Coats, Richard Burr, Mike Johanns, Ron Johnson, John Hoeven and Saxby Chambliss.
Johanns, a Nebraska Republican, was upbeat about the ultimate goal of the dinner: “I think really what he is trying to do is start a discussion and kind of break the ice and that was appreciated,” Johanns told The Hill. “Most of the meeting was spent on budget and [finding] a way forward. His goal is ours. We want to stop careening from crisis to crisis.”
Another possible reason for those thumbs up, in this season of budget sequestration.
The White House says the president paid for the dinner.
It’s $85 a plate at the Jefferson, as Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer and Kate Hunter report of Obama’s “charm offensive.”