House GOP Rallies At White House

Seeking to put a spate of bad news behind them, House Republicans headed over to the White House on Wednesday morning, as members gathered for a rally with President Bush.

Despite losing a special election on their home turf in Louisiana on Saturday night and a receiving a stern warning from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that the party faces a "real disaster" in November if it does not articulate a clear agenda soon, it was all sweetness and light at the White House.

"It was a lovefest," said Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) of the meeting with Bush.
Bush was introduced by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and then took questions from members for about 45 miniutes, according to GOP aides.

After the meeting, an upbeat President Bush said he discussed several pending congressional issues with the GOP members, including a housing bill expected to come up for a vote later in the day, gasoline prices, a stalled Colombia Free Trade Agreement and a massive war supplemental bill which could hit the House floor on Thursday.
Bush also reiterated his threat to veto the Democrats housing measure, which is likely to pass on Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a surprise appearance, according to GOP aides, urging his colleagues in the House to stand strong on the war supplemental and not to support any spending above the president's request.

"You stick with us and we will stick with you," McConnell told the conference, according to a GOP aide.

Bush praised the House GOP's "positive agenda" saying; "it's an agenda that recognizes that we can find the wisdom of the American people in their souls, in their hearts."

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.