Biden Hosts Republican and Democrat Governors at the White House for Dinner

President Joe Biden, who hosted both Republican and Democratic governors for a gala at the White House, raised his glass in a toast.

Standing under a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, he told the people in the room to remember who they were. “We are the United States of America. We can do great things if we do it together.”

“Cheers!” responded the crowd, as the clinking of glasses rippled over the State Dining Room.

Biden hosted the dinner for members of the National Governors Association at the White House for the first time in his administration. It’s usually a tradition, but the dinner was held last year at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate in Virginia, and virtually into 2021 because of COVID-19.

The dinner came as federal leaders appeared more divided than ever, with the new Republican majority in the House courting a risky showdown with the debt ceiling.

On Saturday at the White House, though, the message was unity — and not just because the room was packed with governors, spouses and cabinet members. Biden and the leaders of both associations, Republican Governor Spencer Cox of Utah and Democratic Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, spoke about the need to put aside increasingly bitter political differences to work together to improve the nation.

“I think when we work together it works,” Biden said, adding he would work to be a little more bipartisan and praised the governors’ work.

The tables were set with purple velvet tablecloths (wink wink in bipartisanship), china with the presidential seal, and large floral centerpieces in white and pink.

Cabinet members mingled with governors in ball gowns, tuxedos and sparkles. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sat next to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. Maryland Governor Wes Moore and New York Governor Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, sat next to Vice President Kamala Harris. Not far away were republican governors. Bill Lee of Tennessee and Doug Burgum of North Dakota.

First Lady Jill Biden held an early Saturday service project event for spouses, but had to skip a Friday event because she wasn’t feeling well. She tested negative for COVID-19.

Biden, who doesn’t drink, toasted with his left hand, explaining that his grandfather had told him that’s exactly what you do when there’s no alcohol in your glass. Cox, who is also a non-drinker, did the same with a toast, telling the room it was ginger ale.

“It’s symbolic to have Republicans and Democrats breaking bread together,” Cox said. “This is what is missing.”

“And I believe that the people of our country, at least the jaded majority, want us to do more of that.”

Cox thanked Biden and the First Lady before introducing Murphy, who joked that he was definitely holding the cup in his right hand. He said his party affiliations were less important than the shared nickname “Americans”.

After dinner, guests moved to the East Room, where country singer Brad Paisley sang “American Saturday Night” and other songs.

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