Optics be damned!

(CNN) – Many GOP critics say President Barack Obama should halt his golf games as the federal government weathers mandatory spending cuts, but one former Republican is taking the opposite tack, suggesting Obama golf more.

But there’s one important caveat to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s advice: The foursomes can’t be made up only of friends.

“I find it fascinating, people criticize him for taking people to dinner – he should be doing that every night. They criticize him for going and playing golf with people who he’s got to deal with. He should be doing that every weekend. You always can work better with somebody that you have a chance to build a social relationship with,” Bloomberg – who ran as a Republican in 2002 but later switched his party to “independent” – said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Bloomberg endorsed Obama in 2012’s presidential campaign.

His remarks come as some Republicans cry foul over the expense of Obama’s golf games in a time of government austerity – though the president has yet to play a round since the automatic spending cuts took effect March 1. Some in the GOP have chafed at the symbolism of the White House canceling tours, arguing the money spent on Secret Service protection for a presidential golf outing would be better spent on keeping the White House open to the public.

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