WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell are warily looking for areas of agreement as they begin a new chapter in a relationship that is likely to remain frosty but businesslike.
With both men trying to position their parties for 2016 elections to choose a successor to Obama, the president and the Senate majority leader will need to find ways to work together if they want to overcome legislative gridlock and reach agreements on trade, tax and economic issues.
It will not be easy. Obama, 53, and McConnell, 72, are not close and have little in common. McConnell set a chilly tone to their relationship by declaring in 2010 that his top priority was to make sure Obama was a one-term president, a dream that was shattered when the Democrat won re-election.
That creates an air of unpredictability about Tuesday, when McConnell takes over as Senate majority leader and Republicans welcome a bigger majority in the House of Representatives, giving them a powerful counterweight to Obama in his final two years in office.