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Obama Q and A with GOP now open

From NBC's Shawna Thomas
BALTIMORE -- The question-and-answer session between House GOP members and President Obama is now going to be open to the press. 

Previously, just his speech was open to the press.

*** UPDATE *** GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) held an off-camera/on-the-record talk with the press. He reiterated that they invited the President here and look forward to finding a way towards compromise.  However, he followed that with: "Before we can talk about compromise there has to be, the Democratic in the White and Congress have to abandone the habit of reflexively rejecting every idea just because it comes from Republicans."

Speaking with one congressman here on the elevator, I asked him how he felt about the Q-and-A being open to the press. He replied that he was hoping it would be a "family" discussion and that he was now concerned that the President would not have the same answers he would've had if the Q&A had remained closed.

Last night, the White House called the GOP leadership and asked for the Q&A to be open to the press, the leadership agreed.

*** UPDATE 2 *** In anticipation of the president's speech, GOP leadership is calling the White House's "Small Business Jobs and Wages Tax Cut" the "Return of the Jimmy Carter Tax Credit." That's how Pence (R-IN) referred to the plan this way this morning.

The New York Times' Hulse: "[M]embers of the conservative Republican House Conference say they are itching to quiz the president and present their policy ideas rather than listen to another lofty presidential address. ... Pence promised the president would get an earful in only his second meeting with House Republicans, whose main goal this year is to take back control of the House in the November elections and force the president to contend with them as a more equal partner next year."

More: "Such sessions are typically closed and Republicans said they initially assumed the White House would want to continue that practice. But after an exchange with the White House, Republicans decided to allow press coverage rather than be portrayed as trying to keep the meeting behind closed doors."