State Dining Room
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome, everybody. It is wonderful for us to have you here at the White House. Michelle and I are so happy to host you, and I want to start by acknowledging your outstanding chair, Jack Markell -- (applause) -- and your vice chair, Mary Fallin. (Applause.) But more importantly, I want to recognize the First Lady of Delaware and the First Gentleman of Oklahoma because we know that the spouses put up with an awful lot. (Laughter and applause.) And we hope that you all get a chance to celebrate a little bit tonight.
Last year, I got to see firsthand some of the great work that our governors are helping to accomplish all across the country. Now, it’s true that I had the chance to see some accomplishments in some states more than others -- Ohio -- (laughter) -- Iowa --(laughter) -- Colorado -- (laughter) -- Virginia. But I hope to see more of you this year, the rest of you.
But all of you have helped to steer your states through some of the nation’s toughest times. You’ve had to make hard choices. You’ve had to make wise investments and mobilize the constituencies to do what needs to be done to grow your state. And that work is paying off. Companies are bringing jobs back to our shores. New homes are popping up in our neighborhoods. Small businesses are revitalizing our communities.
And many of you also had to deal with some incredible natural disasters. And, obviously, it’s always painful to see the loss and the hardship that our families have suffered, but it’s always wonderful to see the way in which governors in particular are able to lead and mobilize their states and their communities, rallying around neighbors, friends in communities.
So we know we’ve got more work to do -- more jobs to create and more children to educate, and more roads to repair. The task before us is to find smart, common-sense solutions to each of these challenges that we can move forward on. And I’m looking for good partners. Because while nobody in this room sees eye to eye on everything, we know that when we work together –- Democrats and Republicans, North, South, East and West -- we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own. Whether it’s helping our citizens rebuild from a horrific hurricane or a turbulent economic storm, we’re stronger when we work together as a team.
One of my predecessors, a former governor himself, put it well -- America is nothing if it consists merely of each us -- if it consists merely of each of us, Woodrow Wilson said. “It’s something only if it consists of all of us.”
And nearly one hundred years later, I expect that those words continue to be true, and they should be guiding all of our efforts.
So I want to wish everybody a toast. To the good that we’ve accomplished together, for the good that’s yet to be done. I look forward to a year of progress working with all of you. I am grateful for your service. To those who were recently elected, congratulations. We look forward to seeing you again over the next several years. Cheers.
And with that -- Jack Markell. (Applause.)
GOVERNOR MARKELL: Well, we have, my fellow governors, to the President and Mrs. Obama, I offer you this toast, I hope with humor and little drama. (Laughter.) To the two of you and the Bidens, who hail from my home state, we appreciate your hospitality, we all look forward to this date. On this one night it’s a relief -- politics doesn’t drive the conversation. We don’t speak of partisan issues or presidential aspirations; instead, we gather to reflect on the blessings we’ve received -- to serve our states and country the best it’s ever been conceived. You’ve tackled the big issues, there are many to address and dealing with them all at once is much like 3D chess. One thing for sure is certain -- you don’t let issues fester. You get to deal with education and health care, and even the sequester. (Laughter and applause.)
You’re probably jealous of the First Lady, she’s Jimmy Fallon’s trainer -- (laughter) -- while you, on the other hand, deal with Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner. (Laughter.) Tonight, we leave out the specifics of the issues of the day, except one on which we all agree, and on which I’d like to convey our thanks for the efforts of the First Lady, Dr. Biden, and many other groups who work so hard on behalf of families of our military troops. Our soldiers and our sailors, our airmen and marines, so often leave their families because they know what freedom means. In return, we take care of the objects of their affection, and for all of us it’s more important than party or reelection.
Mr. President, we’re grateful for your service, for your leadership and grit, for your belief in the American dream and I expect that all of us commit to work together and to strive to leave our nation stronger. Our time in office is rather limited so I won’t go on much longer. (Laughter.)
To the President and First Lady, and to the Bidens, here’s our toast. We may come from the mountain states or from the South or plains or coast, we’re one country and one people, in important ways we are united, and for the chance to offer you our greatest thanks, I really am delighted. (Applause.)