Barack Obama

US president shrugs off claims he lacks bonhomie

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 4:30am


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Barack Obama has dismissed claims he disdains the backslapping bonhomie a US leader sometimes needs to drive his priorities through Congress.

Obama put his differences with Republicans down to politics rather than personal antipathy, arguing that, although he had enjoyed a round of golf with House Speaker John Boehner, it had not helped get things done.

"With respect to this 'truism' about me not socialising enough and patting folks on the back and all that stuff, most people who know me know I'm a pretty friendly guy. And I like a good party," Obama said.

The president said that when he has members of Congress to the White House for an annual picnic, "Michelle and I are very nice to them and we have a wonderful time. But it doesn't prevent them from going onto the floor of the House and blasting me for being a big-spending socialist.

"I think that really what's gone on in terms of some of the paralysis here in Washington … just have to do with some very stark differences in terms of policy."

Some commentators have compared Obama unfavourably to past presidents known for schmoozing opponents.