UPDATE 1-Bill Clinton endorses tax plan after Obama meeting

* Tax package discussed during Oval Office meeting

* Clinton says tax deal is best one to be had
(Updates with meeting completed, details)

By Caren Bohan and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON, Dec 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Former U.S. President Bill
Clinton endorsed President Barack Obama’s deal with Republicans
to extend Bush-era tax cuts and offered advice to his fellow
Democrat during a meeting on Friday at the White House.

Clinton, who also grappled with crushing losses to
Republicans in congressional elections two years into his
presidency, said he thought Obama’s deal was the best
bipartisan agreement that could be reached and urged
disappointed members of his party to give it their backing.

“In my opinion, this is a good bill, and I hope that my
fellow Democrats will support it,” Clinton said during an
appearance with Obama in the White House press room.

In a surprising moment, Obama patted Clinton on the back
and then left for a holiday party while the former president
took questions from the podium.

Obama secured an $856 billion deal with Republicans that
could pass the Senate early next week. The deal extends tax
cuts for middle-income earners and the wealthiest Americans and
includes an extension of unemployment benefits and a cut in
payroll taxes.

Democrats in the House of Representatives have staged a
revolt, vowing to toughen estate-tax provisions they say are
too generous for the wealthiest Americans.

Obama’s meeting with the former president underscored
parallels between the political challenges faced by Clinton in
1994 and those confronting Obama now.

Clinton reacted to the defeats in his first term by moving
to the political center. He won re-election in 1996, a pattern
Obama hopes to emulate in 2012.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama requested the
meeting, which was held in the Oval Office at 3 p.m. (2000
GMT).

“There are very few that you can talk to that have done the
job, obviously, and (Obama) greatly values the ability to do
things like that and to have those discussions,” Gibbs said.

“He greatly values their candid advice and wants to keep
those conversations, I think, appropriately private.”

Clinton was known for his strategy of “triangulation,”
which involved showing a willingness to work with Republicans
on issues popular with moderate voters like deficit reduction,
even when those bipartisan efforts angered his own party.

Some Democrats see Obama’s move on the tax cuts as an
example of that strategy.

Obama and Clinton have not always had the coziest
relationship. There was tension during the 2008 presidential
campaign when Obama and Clinton’s wife, Hillary Clinton, were
locked in a close race for the Democratic nomination.

The hard feelings eventually abated, especially after Obama
tapped Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state.

Obama sat down last month with former Democratic President
Jimmy Carter. He spoke recently to former President George H.W.
Bush when Obama decided to award the Republican a Medal of
Freedom.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Alister Bell;
Editing by Peter Cooney)

UPDATE 1-Bill Clinton endorses tax plan after Obama meeting