WASHINGTON - President Obama dove headfirst into the belly of the GOP beast Friday - and left the not-so-loyal opposition bleeding on a Baltimore ballroom floor.
He skewered Republicans for obstructionist tactics, dubious facts and a lack of civility in opposing his domestic agenda, especially health care reform.
"If you were to listen to the debate and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot," Obama told the GOP issues retreat after unveiling a proposal for $33 billion in small-business tax incentives.
House Republican leaders had tried to score political points by inviting Obama to their lair. Problem was, he showed up.
"You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America," Obama said, his face appearing to tighten in anger.
An hour-long question-and-answer session after Obama's short speech provided plenty of dramatic, forced bipartisanship - and some of the most contentious public exchanges of his presidency.
"A lot of you have gone to appear at ribbon-cuttings for the same projects that you voted against," Obama needled, using last year's $787 billion stimulus package to land a stinging blow.
On the other side, Republicans countered by asking biting questions, sometimes in the form of long statements. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) drew blood and left Obama without a good explanation on a well-known health care topic.
"When you stood up before the American people multiple times and said you would broadcast the health care debates on C-SPAN, you didn't," Chaffetz said. "I think a lot of Americans were disappointed."
Asked if he'd back across-the-board tax cuts like President John F. Kennedy, Obama said he would study the budget-busting idea.
"I may not agree to a tax cut for Warren Buffett," he demurred. "You may be calling for an across-the-board tax cut for the banking industry right now. I may not agree to that."
Conservative Georgia Rep. Tom Price, head of the Republican Study Committee, gave Obama props for his political skill and for owning up to not negotiating all of health reform on C-SPAN, calling it his "only moment of humility."
"He knows his talking points, he didn't use a TelePrompTer and he refuses to answer the majority of the questions," Price complained.