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Obama challenges House GOP

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
President Obama's hour-long discussion with House Republicans was remarkable for the bluntness of the conversation. It was certainly good TV.

It is also a reminder that this is a president who went through some 40 debates with Hillary Clinton and three nationally televised ones with John McCain -- and is very comfortable taking on those who might disagree with him.

One exchange with Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling on the budget was particularly pointed on both sides. Obama challenged fact-checkers to say who had the facts on their side. Politifact has taken up the challenge. We'll see what they have to say.

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports that this is how Republican House aides are framing their assessment of the president's visit -- as a means to diffuse the label "party of no."

"The 'party of no' attack is dead," one aide said. "We're very pleased with how that came out. Our members focused on our better solutions, the president acknowledged that he has seen and even read some of them, and we had a spirited debate on the issues. No Democrat -- not the DNC, not Gibbs, no one on the Hill -- can use 'party of no' ever again because they will be contradicting the President of the United States."

*** UPDATE *** In responding to the House GOP aide's statement, a Democratic strategist told First Read:

"That's ridiculous. First of all, if all they do is vote, "No," on bills just for the sake of stoking their base, as they did for a year, they will never escape the 'Party of No' label. But what the president really did was obliterate a host of phony GOP talking points on everything from health care to the debt. They can't keep blaming him for a debt they created with George Bush; they can't keep calling health reform a government takeover because he rammed that one down their throats; and they can't keep dissing the Recovery Act when the president pointed out that they have been attending the ribbon cuttings of its projects. If any Republican believes that they got the better of this exchange, they are delusional."

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