For Obama, a last stab at improving ties with Hill


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's new legislative affairs team sent him more than a dozen recommendations in December for ways to improve his strained relations with Capitol Hill.

The president responded with some ideas of his own, including a request for more social events with lawmakers at the White House.

It was a surprising suggestion from a president who's done little socializing with lawmakers of either party. He's also dismissed the notion that sharing a cocktail or a meal with lawmakers is a way to ease Washington gridlock.

But within weeks, Obama was mingling over martinis and appetizers with Democratic lawmakers at two White House receptions.

White House officials say Obama's cocktail gatherings are part of a broader overhaul of his congressional outreach operation following the dismal start to his second term.

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