As the rest of the country gawked at dresses on the red carpet, President Obama welcomed the governors from all 50 states to the White House on Sunday evening. It was a fancy affair with tuxedos and sequins. Michelle wore earrings the size of small chandeliers and to her right, looking rather sharp himself, was a smiling, bow-tied Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor and the president have been in an extended hugfest since Hurricane Sandy charged up the East Coast, and the seating arrangement surely meant to send a message of bipartisanship.
Obama's speech matched that message. "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," said the president. "We're stronger when we work together as a team."
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The dinner is the high point of the the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, and Obama will have more to say on Monday morning when he speaks the same group again. In many ways, Sunday night's speech will serve as a pep talk for that Monday meeting, when the president is expected to hit on the very touchy subject of the massive budget cuts that take effect on March 1. If Congress can't reach a deal by then, the country's going to see an $85 million reduction in government spending.
Around the same time that the president was speaking, the Obama administration released state-by-state reports detailing exactly how the so-called sequester will affect everyone. Obama's been personally appealing to lawmakers as well. "We just need Republicans in Washington to come around," he said in his weekly radio address on Saturday. "Unfortunately, it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising -- instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans -- they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class."