FROM CNN POLITICAL TICKER:
In a rare social outing, the president dined with 12 GOP senators, including some of his harshest critics, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Asked by a reporter how the dinner went, McCain said "just fine" and gave a thumbs-up.
Another GOP senator, who asked not to be named because it was a private event, described it as a "very positive meeting" that focused on the debt and deficit. The senator also used the words "interactive," "respectful," and "sober" to describe the gathering, adding that it was even jovial at times.
This morning on "Early Start," CNN's Dan Lothian recaps the dinner and what it could mean for more bipartisan work going forward.
READ MORE: Haute cuisine for Obama and GOP senators
This morning, President Obama has his gun task force's recommendations in his hands. Yesterday, during the last press conference of his first term, he said that he'd be reviewing some steps he could take to advance his gun control priorities.
“What you can count on is that the things that I've said in the past, the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn't have them, an assault weapons ban that is meaningful, that those are things I continue to believe make sense,” President Obama says.
Daily Beast contributor Mark McKinnon, also co-founder of No Labels, takes on the GOP's position on guns for destroying the party and comes to “Early Start” this morning to explain.
He suggests Republicans come forward with their own proposal for gun legislation because there are gun control measures that Republicans support which have nothing to do with the Second Amendment. McKinnon urges Republicans not to be defensive about it.
“Don’t wait for the Democrats to come out with an agenda, then simply respond to it,” he says. “Have a Republican agenda. Let’s have a Republican plan on guns.”
He believes Republicans would “get a lot of points” for saying, “we want to protect our rights, but we want to make sure that we do background checks, that...we do mental health checks,” he explains. “Those things just make common sense.”
McKinnon believes change is on its way, “and if Republicans don’t get on board and acknowledge and be part of it, then I think we’ll continue to dig our ditch deeper.”
Only 18 days remain until the U.S. falls over the fiscal cliff unless leaders in Washington can agree on a deal to avert it. But no deal is yet in sight. Despite House Speaker Boehner and other republican leaders taking a hard line on whether to raise taxes, others within the party seem more willing to compromise. This is the latest signal of disagreement within the Republican Party since the election last month.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins comes to the studio to talk about this clash and the future of the Republican Party.
Perkins refers to a recent Wall Street Journal poll where “two thirds of the people say we could use more taxes, but they need to be coupled with spending cuts.” “I think people realize that we’ve come to a point if we continue to kick the can of fiscal responsibility down the road," Perkins says, “we’re gonna end up kicking the can as a country.”
Perkins also remarks on the GOP struggling with hard-line conservative stances. He says moderate candidates from Republican Party lost in the 2012 election for not keeping to “their founding principles.” But conservative candidates like Todd Akin lost as well, having kept to those principles. “It was a bad cycle for Republicans,” where certain candidates, “weren’t prepared for some of the tough issues and how to talk about those issues successfully, which other candidates have successfully talked about.”
Fresh after the President Obama was declared president for a second term, many have been been discussing what’s next on Washington’s agenda.
The looming fiscal cliff is the major issue at hand, and the big question is whether or not Democrats and Republicans can work together to fix it. The White House released a statement saying talks have already begun with leaders in the House and Senate, and both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican House Speaker John Boehner have made statements indicating some willingness to compromise in the wake of Tuesday night's results.
Richard Socarides, Former Senior Adviser to President Clinton and writer for the NewYorker.com, and Lenny McAllister, Republican Strategist and contributor to The Chicago Defender, join John Berman to recap the results of the 2012 presidential election of 2012, concerns regarding the GOP and minorities, and of course, the fiscal cliff.
McAllister feels the Republican party needs “more inclusive leadership” and “more visionary leadership.”
“In 2010, we ended up seeing a lot more diversity from the Republican Party in regards to the candidates and people actually winning elections, both Latinos and African Americans.” McAllister says. "I would like to see the same exact thing in 2013 moving forward, but this time not have it just be a trend, have it be an actual movement. That’s something that the Republican Party needs to do if we’re going to lead a diverse America in the 21st century.”
Within his own party, Democrats have made it difficult for President Obama to negotiate in his first term, especially on the fiscal cliff and budget issues. Berman asks Socarides how complicated it may be for the president to make a deal this time.
“People are gonna be a lot more willing to make a deal,” Socarides says. “The consequences of not having a deal are so big...everybody knows that Americans want the parties to come together.”
“I think both sides are gonna have to compromise and I think they will,” Socarides adds.
Republican Analyst Alice Stewart on the Akin controversy and ramp up to the Republican National Convention.
The very blunt and always entertaining Gov. of New Jersey Chris Christie will be the keynote speaker later this month at the Republican National Convention. Christie confirms he's already working on his speech, telling "USA Today" he'll be delivering some "very direct and hard truths" to the American people.
Also, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to speak on the final night at the convention, playing the important role of introducing the party's presidential nominee Mitt Romney. This comes after rampant speculation that he was going to be Romney's vice presidential nominee.
This morning on "Early Start," CNN political director Mark Preston explains what the choices in speakers at the Republican convention could mean for the race.
Rick Santorum campaign's Hogan Gidley responds to calls for his candidate to drop out of the GOP presidential race.
Christine Romans breaks down the votes in Tennesse, Georgia and Ohio, and takes a look at how religion and income plays a role when voters cast their ballots.
CNN's Christine Romans on how GOP primary voters cast their ballot based on how important a candidate's religion is to them.
CNN's Christine Romans looks deeper at the battle for the GOP nomination in Tennessee.
CNN's Christine Romans breaks down Ohio income brackets and how they voted in the GOP primary.
CNN's Christine Romans looks deeper at Newt Gingrich's win in Georgia, looking at which voters he won and lost.
Kellyanne Conway, president of the polling company, inc./WomanTrend, on what votes say about the presidential race and who voted for Gingrich.
Kellyanne Conway, president of the polling company, inc./WomanTrend, breaks down people who voted for Gingrich.
John Avlon and Maria Cardona on how Super Tuesday results could preview the general election race.
"Early Start with John Berman and Christine Romans" airs weekdays from 5-6am ET on CNN. Check in regularly for news, show updates and a little bit of fun.