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Who Obama invited to his first White House state dinner instead of you

November 24, 2009 |  8:22 pm


It took nearly 11 months, but tonight finally the not-so-new Obama administration had its first state dinner at the White House.

Well, actually it was outside the White House on the lawn in a tent.

A very exciting time. You can see in the official guest list below that the president invited some Chicago friends, a lot of celebrities, as we reported earlier today, some Congress people (even a couple of Republicans), a bunch of Guptas, a whole lot of people called Honorable and Katie Couric.

In case you might want to steal some of the lines for your own Thanksgiving toasts Thursday, here are the official words spoken by the two countries' leaders and the crowd of official diners, both as provided by the White House.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Toasts by President Obama and Prime Minister Singh

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good evening, everyone. On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. Aapka Swagat Hai. (You are all welcome in Hindi) (Applause.)

Many of you were here when I was honored to become the first president to help celebrate Diwali -- the Festival of Lights.  (Applause.)  Some of you were here for the first White House celebration of the birth of the founder of Sikhism -- Guru Nanak. (Applause.)  Tonight, we gather again, for the first state dinner of my presidency -- with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, as we celebrate the great and growing partnership between the United States and India.

As we all know, in India some of life's most treasured moments are often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent. It's a little like tonight.  We have incredible food and music and are surrounded by great friends.  For it's been said that "the most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us." 

Mr. Prime Minister, today we worked to fulfill our duty -- bring our countries ...

... closer together than ever before. Tonight, under the stars, we celebrate the spirit that will sustain our partnership -- the bonds of friendship between our people.

It's a bond that includes more than 2 million Indian Americans who enrich every corner of our great nation -- leaders in government, science, industry and the arts, some of whom join us tonight. And it's the bond of friendship between a president and a prime minister who are bound by the same unshakable spirit of possibility and brotherhood that transformed both our nations -- a spirit that gave rise to movements led by giants like Gandhi and King, and which are the reason that both of us can stand here tonight.

And so, as we draw upon these ties that bind our common future together, I want to close with the words that your first prime minister spoke at that midnight hour on the eve of Indian independence, because Nehru's words speak to our hopes tonight:  "The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the great triumphs and achievements that await us.... The past is over and it is the future that beckons us now." So I propose a toast to all of you.

Does the prime minister get a glass? Thank you. Just logistically, we want to make sure the prime minister has a glass here. (Laughter.)

To the future that beckons all of us. Let us answer its call. And let our two great nations realize all the triumphs and achievements that await us. Cheers. (A toast is offered.) 

PRIME MINISTER SINGH:  Mr. President; the First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama; distinguished guests.  I feel privileged to be invited to this first state banquet, Mr. President, under your distinguished presidency.  You do us and the people of India great honor by this wonderful gesture on your part.  We are overwhelmed by the warmth of your hospitality, the courtesy you have extended to us personally, and the grace and charm of the first lady.  (Applause.)  

Mr. President, your journey to the White House has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in India.  You are an inspiration to all those who cherish the values of democracy, diversity and equal opportunity.  (Applause.)
Democrat first lady Michelle Obama and India prime minister Manmohan Singh listen excitedly to banquet entertainment
Mr. President, I can do no better than to describe your achievements in the words of Abraham Lincoln who said -- and I quote -- "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years."  (Applause.)

Mr. President, we warmly applaud the recognition by the Nobel committee of the healing touch you have provided and the power of your idealism and your vision.  (Applause.)

Mr. President, your leadership of this great nation of the United States coincides with a time of profound changes taking place in the world at large. 

We need to find new pathways of international cooperation that respond more effectively to the grave challenges caused by the growing interdependence of nations.  As two leading democracies, India and the United States must play a leading role in building a shared destiny for all humankind. 

Mr. President, a strong and sustained engagement between our two countries is good for our people and, equally, it is highly important for the world as a whole.  We are embarking on a new phase of our partnership.  We should build on our common values and interests to realize the enormous potential and promise of our partnership.

Our expanding cooperation in areas of social and human development, science and technology, energy and other related areas will improve the quality of lives of millions of people in our country.  The success of the nearly 2.7-million-strong American community is a tribute to our common ethos.  They have enriched and deepened our ties, and I thank them profoundly from the core of my heart.  (Applause.)

Mr. President, I convey my very best wishes to you.  Mr. President, as you lead this great nation, I look forward to working with you to renew and expand our strategic partnership.  I wish you and the people of America a very, very happy Thanksgiving.  (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of President Barack Obama and the First Lady, Mrs. Obama, the friendly people of the United States of America, and stronger and stronger friendship between India and the United States of America.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Cheers. (A toast is offered.) Thank you, everybody.  Enjoy your evening.  (Applause.)    ###

List of invited guests, according to the White House

The Honorable (Rep) Gary Ackerman, United States Representative; Mr. Sant Singh Chatwal (Guest) ; His Excellency Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation;  Mr. Mukesh D Ambani ; Mr. Tim Dutta (Spouse of Ms. Pia Awal) ;The Honorable (Mr.) David Axelrod, White House Communications, Mrs. Susan Axelrod;  Ms. Preeta Bansal, OMB - General Counsel.

The Honorable (Ms.) Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council, Mr. Marland E. Buckner, Honorable (Rep.) Howard Berman, United States Representative (D/California); Mrs. Jane Berman, Spouse of United States Representative (D/California);  Mr. Om Prakash Bhatt;  Mr. Hunter Biden; Mrs. Kathleen Biden;  The Honorable (Vice President) Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice President; Dr. Jill Biden; Mr. Robert O Blake, Jr., Assistant Sec for South and Central Asian Affairs, State Department; Mrs. Sofia Blake.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York; Ms. Diana Taylor; The Honorable (Mr.) John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism, Homeland Security Council; Mrs. Katherine Brennan; The Honorable (Ms.) Lisa Brown, Office of Staff Secretary

Mr. Kevin Cullen; Mr. Donald Browne; Ms. Maria Junqera; The Honorable (Ms.) Carol Browner, Energy and Climate Change; The Honorable (Mr.) Tom Downey;  Mr. William Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Department of State; Ms. Lisa Carty.

General James E Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Mrs. Sandee Cartwright; The Honorable (Senator) Bob Casey, United States Senator (D/Pennsylvania); Mrs. Terese Casey, United States Senate Spouse (D/Pennsylvania); Mr. Rajiv Chandrasekaran; Mrs. Julie Chandrasekaran;  Mr. I.S. Chaturvedi, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation; Senator Satveer Chaudhry, State Senator; Colonel Ravi Chaudhry (Guest); Ms. Rohini Chopra; Mr. Deepak Chopra; Mrs. Rita Chopra.

The Honorable (Secretary) Steven Chu, Secretary of the Department of Energy; Mrs. Jean Chu;  The Honorable (Secretary) Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State; The Honorable (Rep.) James E. Clyburn, United States Representative (D/South Carolina); Mrs. Emily Clyburn; The Honorable (Senator) Kent Conrad, United States Senator (D/North Dakota); Ms. Lucy Calutti, United States Senate Spouse (D/North Dakota);  Mr. David Cote;  Ms. Katie Couric; Mr. Brooks L Perlin.

Mr. Greg Craig, Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President; Mrs. Margaret D Craig;  Mrs. Paula Crown; Mr. Jim Crown; The Honorable (Rep.) Elijah Cummings, United States Representative (D/Maryland); Mrs. Maya Rockeymoore; Senator Swati Dandekar, State Senator; Mr. Arvind Dandekar;  Mr. Rajesh De, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice;  Nancy Ann DeParle, Office of Health Reform; Mr. Jason P DeParle; Ms. Bhairavi Desai; Javaid Tariq; Dr. Vishakha N. Desai; Robert Oxman.The Honorable (Senator) Chris Dodd, United States Senator (D/Connecticut); Mrs. Jackie Clegg Dodd;  Mr. John Doerr; The Honorable (Mr.) Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President, Deputy National Security Advisor, NSC Ms. Cathy Russell;  The Honorable Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director.

Mr. Bob Bauer;  Mr. Ari Emanuel; Mrs. Sarah Emanuel; The Honorable (Mr.) Rahm Emanuel, Chief of Staff to the President; Ms. Amy Rule;The Honorable (Mr.) Jon Favreau, Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting;  Ms. Sarah Feinberg, Office of the Chief of Staff;The Honorable (Mayor) Adrian Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia.

Mrs. Michelle Fenty; Ms. Michelle Flournoy;  Mr. Thomas Friedman; Mrs. Ann Friedman; The Honorable (Mr.) Mike Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, NSC; Dr. Ashok S Ganguly; The Honorable (Mr.) Patrick Gaspard, Office of Political Affairs

Mrs. Raina Washington;  The Honorable Robert Gates;  Ms. Charlene Gaynor ; Mr. Richard Heiss;  Mr. David Geffen; Mr. Jeremy Lingvall;  The Honorable (Secretary) Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury; Ms. Carole Sonnenfeld;  The Honorable (Mr.) Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary; Mr. Anish Goel, Acting Senior Director, South Asia Affairs, NSC.

Mr. Senapathy Gopalakrishnan; Mr. Mark Gorenberg; Ms. Wendy Wanderman; Mr. John Gorman; Mrs. Tamra Gorman;  Representative Jay Goyal, State Representative Kiran Goyal;  Representative Raj Goyle, State Representative Mrs. Monica Arora;  The Honorable (Governor) Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan (D) Mr. Daniel Mulhern, First Gentleman of Michigan;  Mr. Earl G. Graves; Mrs. Barbara Graves; Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta; Mr. Arvind Gupta;  Mr. Raj Gupta; Mr. Rajat Gupta; Mrs. Anita M Gupta;  Dr. Sanjay Gupta; Mrs. Rebecca Olson Gupta;  Mr. Lee Hamilton; Mrs. Nancy Hamilton.

The Honorable (Ms.) Kamala Harris; Ms. Maya Harris; Mr. Kamil Hassan; Mrs. Talat Hassan;  Mr. George Haywood; Mrs. Cheryl J Haywood; The Honorable Fred Hochberg, Export-Import Bank; Thomas P Healy;  Democrat president Barack Obama and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh offer Toasts at White House state dinner 11-24-09

The Honorable (Rep.) Paul Hodes, United States Representative (D/New Hampshire); Mrs. Margaret Hodes.

The Honorable (Attorney General) Eric Holder, United States Attorney General, Department of Justice;
Dr. Sharon Malone, MD;Dr. John P. Holdren; Dr. Cheryl E Holdren;  The Honorable (Rep.) Eleanor Holmes-Norton, United States of Representative (D/DC); Mr. John Norton;  Mr. Robert D Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, State Department; Ms. Camille Massey.

The Honorable (Rep) Steny Hoyer, United States Representative (D/Maryland); Ms. Kathleen May;  Mr. Chris Hughes; Mr. Sean S Eldridge; Mr. Jeff Immelt;  The Honorable (Senator) Daniel Inouye, United States Senator (D/Hawaii); Ms. Irene Hirano, United States Senate Spouse (D/Hawaii);  Mrs. Deepa Iyer; Mr. Parag Khandhar.Mr. Vasudeva Iyer; The Honorable (Administrator) Lisa Jackson, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency; Mr. Kenneth Jackson; The Honorable (Ms.) Valerie Jarrett, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor; The Honorable (Governor) Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana; Mrs. Supriya Jindal, First Lady of Louisiana; The Honorable (General) James Jones, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor;

Mrs. Diane Jones;  Mrs. Ann Jordan; Mr. Vernon Jordan;  Mr. Anil Kakani;  Mr. Farooq Kathwari; Mrs. Farida Kathwari.
Mr. Neal Katyal, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Office of the Solicitor General;  Mr. Jeffrey KatzenbergMrs. Marilyn Katzenberg; Ms. Maneesha Kelkar, Manavi; Vinay Vaishampayan; The Honorable (Senator) John Kerry, United States Senator (D/Massachusetts);  Dr. Harish Khare, Media Advisor to the Prime Minister of India, Indian Delegation; The Honorable (Mr.) Bradley Kiley, Office of Management and Administration Mr. James Coley, Jr.;  Ms. Gayle King; The Honorable (Ambassador) Ron Kirk, USTR; Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk; The Honorable (Mr.) Ronald Klain, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Office of the Vice President; Mrs. Chanda D Kochhar.His Excellency S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation; Ms. Gaitri Kumar, Joint Secretary (Americas), Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation ;Mr. Vivek Kundra;  Mrs. Jhumpa Lahiri; Mr. Alberto Vourvoulias;  Mr. Marc Lasry; Cathy Lasry;  Mr. Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary, Department of State;  The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce; Mrs. Mona Locke;  The Honorable (Mr.) Christopher Lu, Cabinet Affairs; Ms. Kathryn Thomson;  The Honorable (Senator) Richard Lugar, United States Senator (R/Indiana); Mrs. Char Lugar, United States Senate Spouse (R/Indiana);  Mr. Michael Lynton; Ms. Elizabeth Jamie Alter;  Mr. Surinder Malhotra;  The Honorable (Chief of Protocol) Capricia Marshall;  The Honorable (Ms.) Alyssa Mastromonaco, White House Office of Scheduling.

 Mr. Brian Mathis;  Mrs. Tracey Kemble;  Ms. Kiran Mazumda-Shaw;  The Honorable (Senator) Claire McCaskill, United States Senator (D/Missouri); Mr. Joseph Shepard, United States Senate Spouse;  The Honorable (Rep) Jim McDermott, United States Representative (D/Washington);  Mrs. Therese Marie Hansen;  Mr. Zarin Mehta; Ms. Carmen Lasky; The Honorable (Mr.) Jim Messina, Office of Chief of Staff; Mr. Judd Miner; Mrs. Linda Miner; Mr. Newt Minow; Mrs. Josephine Minow; Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal;  Kalpen Modi, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement;  Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Mrs. Deborah Mullen;  The Honorable (Secretary) Janet Napolitano, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security;  His Excellency M.K. Narayanan, National Security Adviser of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation.

Mr. Shantanu Narayen; Mrs. Reni Narayen;  Mr. Raju Narisetti; Durga Raghunath;  Mr. Martin Nesbitt;  Ms. Anita Blanchard;  Mr. Konrad Ng; Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng;  Ms. Indra Nooyi;  The Honorable (Rep) David Obey, United States Representative (D/Wisconsin); Mrs. Joan Obey;  The Honorable (Mr.) Peter Orszag, Director, Office of Management & Budget; Mr. Jim Owens; Ms. Katie Owens;  Mr. Deepak Parekh;  Mr. Eboo Patel;  Ms. Shehnez Mansuri;  The Honorable (Governor) Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts (D); Mrs. Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts;  The Honorable (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, United States Representative (D/California) and Speaker of the House; Mr. Paul Pelosi;  Mr. Dan Pfeiffer, White House Office of Communications.

Mr. Sam Pitroda; Mrs. Anjana Pitroda;  General Colin Powell; Ms. Alma Powell;  Dr. Rachakonda D Prabhu;  Dr. Lata Shete Prabhu;  Mrs. Penny Pritzker; Dr. Brian Traubert;  Ms. Kavita Ramdas; Her Excellency Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation;  Ms. Preetha Reddy;  The Honorable (Governor) Edward Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania (D); The Honorable (Judge) Marjorie Rendell, First Lady of Pennsylvania;  Mr. Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting; The Honorable (Ambassador) Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Mr. Ian Cameron; The Honorable (Governor) Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico (D); Mrs. Barbara Richardson, First Lady of New Mexico;  Ms. Robin Roberts; Mrs. Marian Robinson;  Ambassador Timothy Roemer, US Ambassador to India; Mrs. Mary Johnston;  Ms. Desiree Rogers, Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary;  Mr. John Rogers.The Honorable (Dr.) Christina Romer, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers;  Mr. Dennis Ross, NSC;  The Honorable (Rep) Edward Randall Royce, United States Representative; Marie Therese Royce;  Mr. Michael Sacks; Mrs. Cari Sacks;  The Honorable (Rep.) Linda Sanchez, United States Representative (D/California);

Mr. James Sullivan, Guest of Then Honorable Linda Sanchez;  Mr. Pankaj Saran, Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation;  His Excellency Shyam Saran, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Indian Delegation;  Mr. Jaideep Sarkar, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation;  Mr. Parag Saxena;  The Honorable (Rep.) Jan Schakowsky, United States Representative (D/Illinois); Mr. Robert Creamer;  The Honorable (Mr.) Phil Schiliro, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Mrs. Jody Schiliro;  Ms. Annetta Seecharran; Seema Agnani;  Mr. Stuart Seldowitz, Acting Director for South Asia, NSC; Dr. Amartya Sen; Ms. Emma Georgina Rothschild;  Under Secretary Rajiv J Shah, Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics, Department of Agriculture.
The Honorable Sonal Shah, Deputy Assist to the President, Director Office of SICP, Domestic Policy Council;  Mr. Vinod Shah;  Her Excellency Meera SHANKAR, Ambassador, India;  The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President/Chief of Staff to the First Lady; The Honorable (Mr.) Neil Cohen;  Mr. M. Night Shyamalan;    Mrs. Bhavna Shyamalan;  Ms. Amrit Singh; Mr. Analjit Singh;  Mr. Arun K. Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of India, Indian Delegation;  Mr. Balvinder Singh; Mr. Mohinder Singh;  Mr. Lakhwinder Singh; Mrs. Sukhbir Kaur;  Ms. Upinder Singh;  Mr. Steven Spielberg;  Mr. Sri Srinivasan; Ms. Carla Garrett;  Ms. Srinija Srinivasan.
The Honorable (Mr.) Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State; Ms. Sherburne Bradstreet; Mrs. Semonti Stephens, Deputy Press Secretary, Office of the First Lady;  Mr. Andy Stern; Ms. Anna Burger;  Mrs. Jane Stetson; Mr. Bill Stetson; Honorable (Dr.) Larry Summers, Director, National Economic Council; Dr. Elisa New; 

The Honorable (Ms.) Mona Sutphen, Office of Chief of Staff; Mr. Clyde Williams;  Mr. Ratan Tata;  The Honorable (Ms.) Tina Tchen, Office of Public Liaison;  Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Ambassador, Embassy of Belize; Mrs. Barbara Thummalapally; Mr. Jim Torrey;  Ms. Rose P Lynch; Mr. Richard Trumka;    Mr. Paul H Lemmon;  Ms. Urvashi Vaid; Ms. Kate Clinton;  Mr. Kirk Wagar; Ms. Crystal Connor;  Dr. Eric E. Whitaker; Dr. Cheryl Whitaker ; Mr. Brian Williams; Mrs. Jane Williams;  Mr. Wellington Wilson; Mrs. Wilson;  Mr. Neal Wolin, Deputy Secretary, Department of Treasury;  Ms. Alfre Woodard; Mr. Blair E Underwood;Mr. Fareed Zakaria; Ms. Paula Throckmorton Zakaria.   ###

Photos: Jason Reed / Reuters