President Barack Obama told lawmakers at an annual White House congressional picnic Wednesday that despite their differences they should keep in mind that they are first Americans working toward a better future for the country.
Lawmakers of both parties gathered at the White House’s South Lawn one day before two partisan conflicts came to a head — a Supreme Court decision on Obama’s signature health care law and a contempt of Congress vote in the House against Attorney General Eric Holder.
“We’re thrilled that you have at least one day where you got a chance to be together in Washington and nobody is arguing,” Obama said.
Under sunny skies, legislators, their spouses and children mingled with White House aides among tents and scores of picnic tables. A Marine Corp band played country and western tunes.
Holder was in the crowd, pausing to chat briefly with Republican Rep. Peter King of New York. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was scheduled to attend, his office said.
Obama, dressed in casual slacks and shirt, joined the crowd with first lady Michelle Obama at his side to a few cries of “Four more years.”
“For all the political differences that are sometimes expressed in this town, we are first and foremost Americans — not Democrats or Republicans,” Obama said. “And I think all of us want to make sure that during extraordinarily challenging times for this country that we constantly keep that in mind. That’s what the people who sent us here are expecting.
“And I know that each of us in our own way are hopeful that because of the work that we do here we pass on something a little better and a little brighter to our kids and our grandkids.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.