By Daniel Strauss - 03/07/13 03:04 PM EST
"This is the first real outreach in four-plus years that the president's made to the minority party to try to build relationships and a communication channel that'll help get things done, and I think it's time to do it," Coburn said. "But you can't hold somebody with your boot on their neck and say, 'I want to talk to you,' at the same time. You're undermining their own position, and so I think we had a great dinner, great discussion. The president was sincere. I think everybody believed him in terms of wanting to work together, and I think it's the beginning of the relationship-building that will allow us to do that."
Coburn also said that the president discussed entitlement reform during the meeting.
"He was very open, very honest, and very straightforward to the lengths he will go to try to accomplish that and I think those of us that were there were very honest with him as well," Coburn said.
Coburn's comments echo other senators who said that no real policy breakthroughs happened at the dinner. The senators did say that the gathering served to improve the cold relationships between the president and Senate Republicans.
"I think really what he is trying to do is start a discussion and kind of break the ice, and that was appreciated," Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said as he left the dinner.