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Long IslandPolitics

Obama invites Clinton to White House meeting

WASHINGTON - An administration official says President Barack Obama is planning to meet with former President Bill Clinton at the White House.

The meeting set for Friday comes as Obama adjusts his tactics to deal with an emboldened Republican Party. The GOP takes control of the House in January.

Clinton had to deal with a similar scenario in the middle of his first term in office and ended up working with Republicans to negotiate and advance his agenda.

The official confirmed the meeting on condition of anonymity because it had not yet been announced by the White House.

In other matters Thursday, the White House said Obama apparently hasn't had a cigarette since March, but it stopped short of declaring that he has officially kicked the habit.

"I have not seen or witnessed evidence of any smoking in probably nine months," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs replied when asked at his regular media briefing about Obama's habit.

Has the president quit smoking? Gibbs wasn't ready to make that declaration.

"For that nine months, yes," he said. "I don't want to be flip. I think the president would be the first one to tell you that it's a struggle."

Gibbs said he believed Obama was still chewing nicotine gum to help him quit.

Smoking "is not something that he's proud of. He knows that it's not good for him. . . . He doesn't like children to know about it, obviously including his," the spokesman said. "He has worked extremely hard and I think he would tell you even, when in the midst of a tax agreement and a . . . [nuclear arms treaty] and all the other things that accumulate that, even where he might have once found some comfort in that, he's pushed it away."

Later Thursday, Obama, with the flip of a switch, lit the national Christmas tree, a 40-foot Colorado blue spruce growing on a grassy area near the White House known as the Ellipse.

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