Obama still doesn't seem to get it: GOP senator

Top priority for GOP majority
Top priority for GOP majority

Sen. John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, offered platitudes of bipartisanship and optimism on Thursday about working with President Barack Obama.

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In his appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box," the Wyoming Republican also said the president still fails to realize what happened at Tuesday's midterm election, which saw Republican gain control of the Senate and widen their majority in the House of Representatives.

"The president has said his policies were on the ballot, and his policies lost," Barrasso said. "We have seen a collapse in confidence in the president. He's lost considerable amounts of credibility with the American people."

In a post-election news conference Wednesday, the president said he's eager to work with the new Republican Congress, but stands ready to act on his own on controversial issues such as immigration if lawmakers don't act. He also said he wouldn't sign an Obamacare repeal, a popular refrain from conservatives who've been trying to undermine the 2010 health care law for years.

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"I'm expecting that the president is going to need some time for the impact of the full elections to sink in ... to see what this means for him and the country," Barrasso said.

The senator did say he's looking forward to lunch with Obama at the White House on Friday, when leaders from both parties will be getting together to break the ice and try to find common ground on taxes, energy, jobs and the economy.

Barrasso did not want to make predictions about the president's willingness to compromise. "The only way you can really tell is to put something on the president's desk, where he has to then decide to sign something that's popular with the American people that's had bipartisan support."

Where Obama & GOP go from here
Where Obama & GOP go from here

Bill Daley, Obama's former chief of staff, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in a separate interview that he's optimistic the president and Republicans can work together. "I think there is a window here between now and probably the fall before the presidential campaign really takes over to get something done."

Speaking highly of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the likely majority leader in the new Congress, Daley said the Kentucky Republican will want to get things done.

But Daley, a former Commerce secretary and JPMorgan executive committee member, did warn that not all Republicans see eye-to-eye on issues like immigration, pointing out that the Senate had passed a bipartisan bill that the House refused to bring up. "They've got to within the Republican Party reconcile before they even go to Democrats." He's currently head of U.S. operations at Swiss hedge fund Argentière Capital.

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Meanwhile, Barrasso highlighted issues the GOP hopes to push forward, including exporting liquefied natural gas and getting the long-stalled Keystone oil pipeline approved. Republicans also want to strip out the "most harmful parts of the president's health care law."

Besides serving as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, he's a member of the Energy Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.