Grassley tweet from White House meeting

I've been monitoring the Twitter account of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today to see what he'd tweet about his meeting at the White House with President Obama.  (The topic:  health care reform.)

Here's what Grassley tweeted: "Just had a hamburger w obama at WH. Hour lunch discussing health care reform and four Ag/EPA issues."

UPDATE:  Grassley just spoke with Tom Beaumont of The Des Moines Register and Radio Iowa news director O. Kay Henderson (that would be me).  Listen to the conversation — the mp3 lasts 10 and a half minutes.

UPDATE II:  Grassley began with a scene setter.

"Had an hour with the president and vice president, with Senator Baucus.  We were in a small room that presumably is where..three or four people meet to have lunch.  I had a hamburger.  I'm not going to tell you what other people had…except they're more conscious of eating right than I am."

"…No staff was present and we had a discussion that centered around health care for the most part."

"…I had more than ample opportunity to make the points that I wanted to make."

Grassley says he stressed "the importance of presidential involvement as a way of urging the process along…the implication was that the president needs to be in the center of this thing to move things along."

Did you bring up public option again?

Grassley: "Another person brought it up and seemed to indicate they knew it was a problem for me, but I guess I didn't get any indication that that was a, there was no indication of any line being drawn in the sand and I'd put that issue of one that could be, you know."

By that do you mean you weren't getting the impression the people you were having lunch with were insisting that it be on the table?

Grassley; "I can quote myself.  I said it's still on the table, although I indicated it was a major problem."

Do you consider this the first of many meetings or the first and only of its kind?

Grassley: "Oh, I think the first and only.  The president's so busy…Meetings like this could occur again if there's major things that are in dispute that might be making bipartisanship hang in the fire, but if bipartisanship was out the door, obviously you wouldn't have any meetings like this again."

Does that mean that you felt the president was supportive and encouraging in the way that you and Senator Baucus are working together?

Grassley: "The answer is yes, but he always has been.  Go back to November 17th or 18th phone call, the first time I had when he was president-elect.  He talked about not just health care, but that was one of the points of discussion and he wanted to work with me and he knew how Baucus and I work together, so there was nothing that detracted from that original conversation and I think that there's an understanding that our working together is the best opportunity for bipartisanship."

Any talk of Supreme Court nomination?

Grassley; "Without quoting anybody, it did come up and we had assurances that, I can't think of an adjective that I want to use. The implication was that there's not going to be some — so I want to make sure that this is an implication in my words and not in somebody else's words — that it's not going to be somebody that's a bomb-thrower."

Did you get the idea that the president knew who he was going to nomination?

Grassley: "Not at all."

Graslsey was asked about the prospects for a bipartisan deal on health care, then he was asked how Obama's past as a senator plays in this developing story.  Back in a moment with those answers.

UPDATE III: Here's the Radio Iowa story about this meeting.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Reading the tweets of politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley and President Obama prove very interesting. Some political tweets are insightful while others are utterly depressing.
    IMHO, tweets can either make or break a latter-day politician’s career.