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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President at a Picnic for Members of Congress

South Lawn

7:12 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody! 


THE PRESIDENT:  Now, you don’t have to worry, I will not be singing.  We have professionals for that.  (Laughter.)  But on behalf of Michelle and myself, I just want to say welcome.  We have a perfect day for a picnic.  It is spectacular. 

We want to thank, as usual, our outstanding Marine Band.  (Applause.)  They can play anything at any time.  And we’re so grateful for their service to our country.  Obviously, that goes to all our men and women in uniform, and today is a great day for us to acknowledge everything they do to provide our liberty and way of life.

I want to say a special welcome not only to the members of Congress, but most importantly to their families -- (applause) -- because Michelle reminds me every day how difficult it is to be married to a politician.  (Laughter.)  And the sacrifices that all of you make -- the birthday parties that get missed, or the soccer games that you’re late to, the travel that keeps you away from your loved ones -- all of that obviously is in service of our country, and you guys are serving alongside those of us who hold elective office.  So we’re thrilled that you have at least one day where you got a chance to be together in Washington and nobody is arguing. 

So that also just reminds me that for all the political differences that are sometimes expressed in this town, we are first and foremost Americans -- not Democrats or Republicans.  (Applause.)  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. 

And so, I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you.  I’m glad I see some folks here in shorts -- (laughter) -- and some Hawaiian shirts.  And so everybody is dressed appropriately for a picnic.  If you still have your tie on, take it off.  (Laughter.)  Make sure to enjoy the barbecue, enjoy the music. 

MRS. OBAMA:  Go see the garden.

THE PRESIDENT:  Go see the garden if you want.  And we are going to be coming down on this rope line and I want to be able to shake everybody’s hands.  I warn you in advance that because the line is long, it’s going to be hard for us to pose for individual pictures for everybody.  The exceptions that we make are kids who are 12 and under.  How about that?  That’s going to be our cutoff.  (Applause.)  So little kids, if you want a picture, I don’t mind.  I can’t say no to little kids.  You bigger folks, you’re just going to get a handshake and maybe a kiss if -- (laughter) -- unless you haven’t shaved, in which case -- anyway, everybody have a wonderful time. 

God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.) 

7:16 P.M. EDT