President Obama Gathers His ‘A’ List for First State Dinner

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Click here for list: Expected Attendees at Tonight’s State Dinner

The dinner honors India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

—What’s the hottest ticket in the nation’s capital? An engraved invitation to Tuesday’s White House state dinner, the first hosted by President Obama.

He and the first lady will honor India’s prime minister. But in a departure from the traditional venue — the elegant State Dining Room — the Obama’s will gather with a few hundred VIPs in a huge, heated tent on the South Lawn.

Glamor and Grace


The guest list for the black-tie gala remains a closely guarded secret. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will certainly be there.

Several notables are good bets, such as Oprah Winfrey and Chicago hotel billionaire Penny Pritzker, as are top Obama aides David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Rahm Emanuel.

Tonight's Menu and Desert

Dee Dee Myers, who served as President Clinton’s press secretary, said the lobbying by people seeking an invite had probably been relentless. The first [state dinner] is always the most dramatic,” Myers said. “First impressions are important. That’s your A list, that’s your top game right there. By the time you get to the eighth state dinner, it’ll be a lot less important.”

The gargantuan tent affords a bigger crowd than could fit in the State Dining Room, which holds 140.

State dinners generally draw administration officials and members of Congress, the Cabinet and the diplomatic corps. Obama donors and corporate titans, Hollywood glamour, athletic greats and leading artists are bound to be thrown into the mix, possibly joined by some academics and journalists.

And the morning after, hotheads left off the list are bound to let off steam.

Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh

There’s always a few angry calls,” Myers said, “because people read the guest list” in the morning papers.

But until the dinner takes place, the heat is on, perhaps for no two people more than Desiree Rogers, the White House social secretary, and Cristeta Comerford, the White House’s top chef.

Myers was a guest at a few state dinners put on by Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is another guaranteed attendee Tuesday. As Secretary of State, she hand-delivered the invitation to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in July.

Tented parties for state dinners aren’t entirely new. In President Clinton’s final year in office, he had about 700 guests under a tent for an earlier Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

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President Obama and Prime Minister Singh Press Conference | The White House

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Obama State Dinner Challenges, Real & Imagined: A Vegetarian Guest of Honor, A Scarcity of Vegetables…

Vegetable veracity: The garden is low on crops, Mr. Singh is fond of fish, and about that beehive gift for dinner guests…

Please visit our friends at Obama Foodorama. They have more pictures and details about the tent, menu, chef, etc…they are a great source for anything food related at the Obama White House. 🙂

Jennifer Hudson to Perform Tonight

Oscar Winner will perform at the Obama administration's first state dinner Tuesday.

Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson will perform at the Obama administration's first state dinner Tuesday.

Politico/Nia-Malika Henerson—Award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson will perform at the Obama administration’s first state dinner Tuesday, according to several sources.

Hudson, a Chicago native who performed at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008, will perform for 320 guests at the black tie affair.

The Obamas have had several soul singers perform at the White House. For the Governor’s Dinner, they drew on their Chicago connection and had funk band Earth, Wind and Fire perform for guests.

Hudson suffered a major family tragedy in 2008 when her mother, brother and nephew were killed. Obama, who was campaigning at the time, sent condolences to Hudson.

Hudson got her start as a contestant on American Idol and has been a winner at the Oscars and Grammys. She was recently tapped to play Winnie Mandela in a forthcoming biopic.


First Lady Michelle Obama Discusses State and Official Visits

As the White House prepares for tonight’s State Dinner in honor of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Gursharan Kaur of India, First Lady Michelle Obama hosts young women from the White House Leadership and Mentoring Program to discuss the history and protocol that surround State and Official Visits. The First Lady discusses how protocol and hospitality can help foster good relations and build strong friendships.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Couple slips though security to crash state dinner
WASHINGTON – The Secret Service says it’s looking into its own security procedures after determining that two people crashed Tuesday night’s state dinner at the White House.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan says that President Barack Obama was never in any danger. Donovan says the party crashers went through the same security screening as the 300-plus people actually invited to the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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2 Comments

Filed under Barack Obama, Culture, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), India, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Rahm I. Emanuel (Chief of Staff), US, Vice-President Joe Biden, William (Bill) J. Clinton, World

2 responses to “President Obama Gathers His ‘A’ List for First State Dinner

  1. ogenec

    Bump calling Congress for health care reform. I’ve been calling the WH relentlessly to complain that my invitation has not yet arrived. Obama has a few more hours to make this right, or I’m cutting him off for 2010.

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