WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (AP) — President Joe Biden toasted with a toast during a formal reception of Republican and Democratic governors at the White House.
Standing under a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, he told those in the room to remember who they were. “We are the United States of America. If we do it together, we can accomplish great things.”
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“Cheers!” the crowd replied as the clink of wine glasses rippling through the state dining room.
For the first time since Biden took office, he hosted a dinner for members of the National Governors Association at the White House. It’s usually a tradition, but due to COVID-19, the dinner, held last year at George Washington’s Virginia estate, Mount Vernon, will actually be held in 2021.
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The dinner came as federal leaders appeared as at odds as ever with the new Republican majority in the House in a risky showdown over the debt ceiling.
At the White House on Saturday, though, the message was one of unity — and not just because the room was packed with governors, spouses and cabinet members.
Biden and the leaders of the two associations, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, spoke of the need to put aside increasingly hostile political differences in order to work together to make the country better.
“I think when we work together, it works,” Biden said, adding that he would try to bring the two parties more together and praised the work of the governors.
The tables were covered with purple velvet tablecloths (wink wink at bipartisanship), china emblazoned with the presidential seal and large floral centerpieces in white and pink.
Cabinet members in ball gowns, tuxedos, and glitter mingled with the governor. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sat next to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, sat next to Vice President Kamala Harris. Not far away is a Republican government. Bill Lee of Tennessee and Doug Burgum of North Dakota.
First Lady Jill Biden hosted a service project event for her spouse earlier Saturday but had to miss Friday’s event because she was unwell. She tested negative for COVID-19.
Biden, who doesn’t drink, toasted with his left hand, explaining that his grandfather told him that’s what you do when you don’t have alcohol in your glass. Cox, who also doesn’t drink, did the same while toasting, telling the room it was ginger ale.
“It’s symbolic to have Republicans and Democrats sharing bread,” Cox said. “That’s what’s missing.”
“And I believe the people of our country, at least the weary majority, wish we had done more of this.”
Cox thanked Biden and the first lady before introducing Murphy, who joked that he must be holding the wine glass in his right hand. Their partisanship, he said, was less important than their shared epithet “The Americans.”
After dinner, guests filed into the East Room, where country singer Brad Paisley sang “American Saturday Night,” among other hits. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)