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February 2nd, 2009
03:52 PM ET

Nice party, but let's talk Stimulus vote later

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/30/art.obamafootball.gi.jpg caption="Obama was rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers."]

Suzanne Malveaux
White House Correspondent

The White House theater was packed, all 40 seats filled, so guests spilled out into the East Wing where big TVs were set up overlooking the First Lady’s Garden. The Super Bowl game blasted from the theater, but the party focused more on family.

Attendees say about 75 people showed up Sunday evening, including several dozen children from ages two on up.

Kids gathered around a Nintendo WII where Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent says his 8-year-old son Jack took on two sisters determined to win. No, not the two sister who live upstairs.

President Obama, wearing a casual button-downed shirt, walked from room to room serving his guests brownies, and oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. Michelle Obama worked the crowd too.

There were hot-dogs, chicken sandwiches, chips and salsa, soft pretzels, hot fudge ice cream, and pizza.

The crowd was diverse. Attending Attorney General nominee Eric Holder, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, wounded soldiers, and plenty of children running around in oversized jerseys.

Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, decked out in an Arizona Cardinals jersey, placed a wager with Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania whose wife and kids donned Steelers gear. Whoever loses has to wear the other guy's team jersey when the House returns on its first full day in session on Wednesday.

Franks accepted his loss Monday, and said he'd be wearing the Steelers jersey, saying "it's always important to be magnanimous in victory and humbling in defeat."

Franks, who also voted against the House stimulus plan, said he and the President did not talk about the economic package, but rather about their children. Franks now has 6 month-old twins, a boy and a girl.

Franks said the President was "very gracious." The Arizona Congressman gave the President a Cardinals jersey with the number 40. It is the number of former Cardinals player, Pat Tillman, who left the team to join the military and was killed in Afghanistan.

Franks said Mr. Obama said "I'd be honored to accept that." Franks said there was no political statement he was making about the war in giving the President the shirt. "He was a very famous Cardinal who personified everything that is noble. The men who are on front lines so some can stay home and watch the Super Bowl," Franks said.

Later several guests cracked up when a young boy approached Mr. Obama and asked "Mr President. Where is the bathroom? Can you tell me where the bathroom is?" Obama responded with a smile "How would I know? I've only been living here 10 days."

Despite a healthy group of Arizona representatives Steelers' fans outnumbered the Cardinals.

Pennsylvania lawmakers Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy and Senator Bob Casey were representing.

Attendees described the cheering as "somewhat restrained" and any foul language was "under control."

Congressman Charlie Dent, a Republican representing Pennsylvania's 15th district said the party was "really fun"! But he warned it wouldn't necessarily change his view about the President's stimulus plan. Dent voted against the House version and said "I take each issue on a case by case basis. There are areas on which I agree and disagree. I think it's important to have some kind of stimulus package, it just depends on what's in it. I'll have to see the revised version." Dent said his family had a ball, "I really commend the President for reaching out. Very smart."

Republican Congressman Franks agreed, "it's always good for members of Congress and the President to personalize and humanize each other regardless of what events they face together in the future," he said, "the hope is it will diminish politics and encourage working together for the country's best interest."

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Larry L.

    I think Obama "neighborhood" management experience is what he is drawing from,he thinks having a block party will CHANGE everything.

    February 2, 2009 at 9:30 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Hopefully Obama's functions for the Senators and Congress people will begin to lay a foundation of teamship that they can work from to build the bills America needs and then to pass them. If they can party together then surely they can work together.

    February 2, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  3. Paula Vergara, Boston, MA

    I'm just glad Sarah Palin wasn't invited.

    Definitely a good PR move on the part of the Obama family, to host a bi-partisan partaaay, with low-budget finger foods.

    February 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  4. Dean the tax payer

    xtina, chicago IL February 2nd, 2009 5:54 pm ET

    Charles Dent has a record of bipartisanship, and has voted his conscience, not necessarily with the party– many times. He voted yes on investing in homegrown biofuel, and has been moderate throughout his career. In fact rep Dent is right in the center; we need more like him. However, I hope the really fun Superbowl party has not softened him about the wasteful spending part of the stimulus pkg

    , He should vote NO.

    What are smoking?? I follow every vote my representives cast. Charlie is not a moderate!!! Arlen Spector is a moderate, but Dent not even close.
    One vote does not make him a moderate.

    February 2, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  5. xtina, chicago IL

    Charles Dent has a record of bipartisanship, and has voted his conscience, not necessarily with the party– many times. He voted yes on investing in homegrown biofuel, and has been moderate throughout his career. In fact rep Dent is right in the center; we need more like him. However, I hope the really fun Superbowl party has not softened him about the wasteful spending part of the stimulus pkg

    , He should vote NO.

    February 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  6. Pat Canada

    I'm proud of the Obama's. The party menu definitely confirms elaborate spending is DONE. How nice to have Regular Everyday Folk in the White House. No Airs, No Put Ons, No Put Downs! Great time to be Alive as someone? said!

    February 2, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  7. Terry

    Thank goodness.....a man with backbone who will not be the mindless and mesmerized just because a nice President with no economic experience allowed Pelosi to write the biggest piece of pork I have ever read.

    February 2, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  8. rod

    How warm and fuzzy. What about Republicans accepting responsibility for the mess we are in and quit their chest pounding and get the stimulus passed. The Repubs got into this mess and for whatever reasons, don't want to help get us out of it. Another example of wrong headed thinking by the Grand Old Party, soon to be the Failed Old Party (FOP).

    February 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  9. Dean the tax payer

    Charlie Dent is my representative, he has never taken any issue on a case by case basis. Look at his voting record, if it was written by a Democrat Representative Dent has voted against it, unless he has something to gain from it, not the American voter. Representative Dent has not and does not vote bipartisan.

    February 2, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  10. Moses Garcia

    That's fine, and perhaps the timing's not right, but where's my Bull's jersey?

    – Corona, CA

    February 2, 2009 at 4:07 pm |