Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) gestures to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) before… (Win McNamee / AFP/Getty…)
WASHINGTON -- Republicans weren’t won over by President Obama’s inauguration speech Monday, criticizing what they saw as a lack of bipartisan outreach.
Several prominent Republicans had qualms with Obama’s remarks, with their overt hat tips to climate change, gay marriage and the need for a stronger social safety net.
“I would have liked to have seen some outreach,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters following the speech. “This is the eighth [inauguration] that I’ve been to and always there’s been a portion of the speech where [the president says] ‘I reach out my hand because we need to work together.’ That wasn’t in this speech.”
“My disappointment was that in the speech, I think the president missed an opportunity to talk about where we can find common ground,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said. “Instead, he chose to talk about it in the abstract and the specifics were about the things he believes, but are not issues where we, as a Congress and an executive branch, can make progress.”
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Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, called Obama’s mention of climate change “strange.”
“I think he believes it, I think he’s sincere, but it’s still strange,” Gingrich said. “The great energy revolution we’re living through is called ‘Oil and gas.’”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) was more reserved in his critique.
“I thought within the context of this capping off a campaign that it was not too political,” the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget committee said. “But the issue of our time is whether the government has grown [too much.]”
House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wa.) called for “hard choices” to be made following Obama’s speech.
“House Republicans are eager to be responsible partners with the president during his second term,” she said, before placing the onus on Senate Democrats to put federal spending on a “sustainable path.”
As for Obama’s former presidential rival Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee maintained his post-election reluctance to approach the political radar, remaining at his home in La Jolla.
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Staff writers Noam Levey, Lisa Mascaro and Michael A. Memoli contributed to this report.