Another GOP senator, who asked not to be named because it was a private event, described it as a "very positive meeting" that focused on the debt and deficit. The senator also used the words "interactive," "respectful," and "sober" to describe the gathering, adding that it was even jovial at times.
The senator said that Republicans who are "overly skeptical saw a sincerity in (Obama)" they had not been exposed to before, and in return, Obama saw a sincerity among Republicans he may not have recognized before, as well.
"It gave a positive foundation to both sides around a very big issue," the GOP senator said, but still cautioned it is just the beginning and it's still unclear "how you get from here to there" on the deficit.
Hoeven, while talking to reporters after the dinner, also said it was a "good meeting."
"The discussion included not only sequester, the budget, but really where we really focused was how do we bring people together in bipartisan way to address debt and deficit. That means tax reform," he said. "That means entitlement reform that protects and preserves social security, Medicare, but truly addresses debt and deficit."
Another senator who asked not to be named said Republicans got into some detail on each subject, especially tax reform and Medicare. The senator said they were all candid about ideas, and what could be considered "challenges" within each party.
According to this senator, one Republican told the president that if he really wants to do tax reform in a way that attracts fiscal conservatives, he should entertain the idea of throwing out the tax code and revamping it and "do something dramatic."
Obama, the senator said, reacted "openly" to that and other ideas.
Also of note, the senator said wine was poured but there were "not copious amounts of drinking." In fact, the president drank iced tea, and other senators did, as well.
Later Wednesday night, Johnson lauded the dinner as "a genuine, sincere, open discussion on the fiscal problems facing this nation."