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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 10th, 2013
05:49 PM ET

Woodward: GOP tried to blackmail Obama

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward is probably having déjà vu. In his book "The Price of Politics," Woodward wrote about the intricate negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner over the debt ceiling in 2011 and the fiscal cliff in 2012.

Given that the U.S. government is currently shutdown, and a debt ceiling deadline is fast approaching, it appears the relationship between Obama and Boehner is getting worse.

"It makes your head hurt, because I mean, the speaker's chief of staff Mike Summers is quoted in the book saying that, 'We, the Republicans in the House, are primarily a blocking majority.' That means they're playing defense, they are going to stop things," said Woodward.

Republicans took a step beyond blocking, and tried to change Obamacare – tying the funding of the government to the defunding or delay of Obamacare, effectively leading to the government shutdown.

"They have backed off from that strategy. I think that is the good news here. And they're willing to do something on the debt ceiling, at least for six weeks," said Woodward, referring to a bill to temporary lift the country's debt limit.

"The problem is I'm not sure Boehner and the president have closed the deal so they have a working relationship, which is what you need in a sensitive negotiation like this," said Woodward.

In his book, Woodward essentially predicted the current impasse, writing that aides who were involved in previous conversations "are frightened because there are too few conversations between the White House and the Republicans, and there is insufficient framework or history to suggest how they might succeed in the next round, which is sure to come by the end of 2013."

"What's happened here, they were trying to blackmail Obama on Obamacare, and he rightly drew a red line on that, and that's off the table," said Woodward.

Now, it is time for Obama to step up.

"He has to govern," said Woodward. "If this is a calamity, if we run into some sort of economic meltdown, it's going to be in the Obama presidency that this occurred."

Republicans taking Obamacare off the table "is a big moment in this," said Woodward. "There's hope - light at the end of the tunnel."

But the U.S. is not out of the dark just yet.

Political leaders "have not established the kind of relationship where they can call each other, where they can meet, where they can kind of bare their soul, where they can kind of say look, I have to have
this, I understand you've got to have that," said Woodward.

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