Concluding the official visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Washington D.C., the president and first lady hosted Cameron and his wife at a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House Wednesday evening. As yet another signifier of the importance of the so-called special relationship between the U.S. and Great Britain, the White House opted for a full State Dinner despite the fact that the dinner’s honoree is the head of the British government and not its head of state.
During the toasts, both leaders mixed humor with sincerity in expressing the importance of their friendship and the close relationship between the nations they lead.
“In all of our interactions, including today, I've learned something about David,” President Obama said. “In good times and in bad he's just the kind of partner that you want at your side. I trust him. He says what he does and he does what he says. I've seen his character, and I've seen his commitment to human dignity during Libya. I've seen his resolve, his determination to get the job done, whether it's righting our economies or succeeding in Afghanistan.”
For his turn Cameron also pointed to Obama's foreign policy successes in killing Osama bin Laden and aiding opposition forces in Libya to commend the president for his “strength, moral authority and wisdom.”
“Barack, it is an honor to call you an ally, a partner and a friend,” Cameron said. “You don't get to choose the circumstances you have to deal with as a president or a prime minister, and you don't get to choose the leaders that you have to work with, but all I can say is that it is a pleasure to work with someone with moral strength, with clear reason and with fundamental decency in this task of renewing our great national alliance for today and for the generations to follow.”
To lighten the mood, Obama read some press accounts of his visit to London in 2011, during which he and Cameron exchanged beers from their native countries, hosted a barbeque for service members and played table tennis with local students.
“One news story said David Cameron and Barack Obama cemented their special relationship by hitting the bottle,” Obama said to laughter from the crowd. FULL POST
The President and Mrs. Obama invited the following as guests to tonight's State Dinner.
The Right Honorable David Cameron, M.P. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Mrs. Samantha Cameron
Mrs. Obama gave a short preview of tonight's State Dinner to a group of local students this afternoon in the State Dining Room. Explaining the intricate dance required to serve dinner for 150 guests, the first lady described the kitchen to the audience.
"The White House is a big place, but the kitchen is really teeny. You wouldn't believe it - it's a little bitty kitchen, so they have to really man the engines to make it happen," Mrs. Obama explained.
The White House will host a State Dinner Performance on the South Lawn following the dinner, featuring performances by Mumford and Sons and selections by John Legend.
The theme of the décor for the United Kingdom State Dinner is “America’s Backyard.” Traditionally, America’s backyards are places of gathering and entertaining close friends and family. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom makes this “backyard” celebration a quintessentially American event.
Located in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House, the State Dinner encouraged a celebration of American gardens. The grounds of the White House are in clear view through the 150 foot-wide glass wall of the dinner tent. In honor of our guests, the beauty of countryside English gardens is also incorporated into the design by Rafanelli Events. Planters and centerpieces used at the dinner are intended to emulate nature and the flowing “landscape gardens” that are common in England. The English have also become widely known for their flower borders, with perennials, annuals, and sometimes shrubs combining to form masses of color. The design of the tent embraces this passion for color in the floral arrangements, lighting, amethyst linens and matching carpet. Roses—the national flower of both countries—play a major role in the floral arrangements.
From the White House regarding the State Dinner menu:
The President and Mrs. Obama will host Prime Minister David Cameron and Mrs. Cameron for a State Dinner this evening. The State Dinner will be held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House. White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford and White House Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses have carefully constructed the evening’s menu using local ingredients, including produce grown in the White House Kitchen Garden.
A Winter Harvest Dinner: The United Kingdom State Dinner takes its inspiration from the Kitchen Garden’s late winter harvest and some early spring greens, which chefs harvested the day before the dinner. The White House Kitchen Garden uses hoop houses—simple metal frames covered by plastic tarps—to grow produce throughout the winter months. During the day, the plastic traps heat from the sun, and at night that heat protects plants from freezing temperatures. Using this method, produce thrives in the White House Kitchen Garden throughout the year.
An American wine will be paired with each course.
The White House released this information on the gifts from the Obamas to the Camerons:
On the occasion of the Official Visit, The President and Mrs. Obama gave the Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron a one-of-a-kind Braten 1000 Series Grill hand made by Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers of Paxton, Illinois. Symbolizing the personal friendship between the President and Mrs. Obama and Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron, the gift commemorates their May 2011 visit to 10 Downing Street where together they grilled and served food to American and British Armed Service Members.
An American classic, the wood and charcoal burning grill is customized with American and British friendship flags engraved into the utility shelf and a personalized plaque mounted on the exterior lid. The grill and all its component parts are made in the United States and Engelbrecht Grills and Cookers has been praised for its environmentally friendly practices. The gift also includes two White House chef jackets each featuring American and British flags, and the Great Seal. Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron's names are embroidered onto the front of their individual jacket.
Mrs. Obama gave Mrs. Cameron an original crystal honey vase with honey collected from the South Lawn of the White House hand-etched with the words "White House Honey" onto the front side of the vase. Chamomile seeds harvested from the White House kitchen garden and a custom candle inspired by the White House were also presented.
Each of Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron's children received personalized American made bean bag chairs, each featuring the Presidential Seal and the child's name embroidered.
Finally...the president's NCAA bracket has been revealed! Mr. Obama has North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State and Missouri in the Final Four.
As part of the kick off to March Madness, the president and British Prime Minister David Cameron attended a first round game in Dayton on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, they were still talking hoops at the official welcoming ceremony for the prime minister at the White House.
"The storied relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is steeped in tradition and last night as president I shared with the Prime Minister a uniquely American tradition of bracketology. March Madness," said Mr. Obama. "He has learned to appreciate one of our great national pastimes. His team has told me he has decided to install a hoop at Ten Downing Street."
The prime minister responded with thanks "for the lesson last night." He added, "I will leave America with some new words: ally oops, brackets, fast breaks. And who knows? Maybe that hoop will be installed in Downing Street after all."
It's all things British today at the White House with the official visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron. It's a day of pomp and circumstance here at the White House and President and Mrs. Obama welcome Mr. and Mrs. Cameron on the South Lawn for the official welcome ceremony. The two leaders will make brief remarks and there will be a review of the troops. Afterwards, the two leaders will have a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office followed by an extended bilateral meeting with their respective delegations. We'll hear from both leaders at a press conference in the Rose Garden close to noon. We expect each leader to take two questions from their press corps. Tonight is the big state dinner on the South Lawn. We'll hear both leaders give toasts and we'll get a taste of the entertainment.
For a full release of the White House's schedule, click below. FULL POST
(CNN) – Air Force One, Marine One and the armored motorcade aside, President Barack Obama treated British Prime Minister David Cameron Tuesday to a typical American night out with the guys …and the Secret Service.
The two leaders headed out of Washington, DC to Dayton, Ohio to enjoy the beginning of March Madness, the NCAA college tournament.
As the two leaders ate hot dogs and chatted amiably, observers could see President Obama gesturing as he appeared to describe the game to the prime minister.
At a half time interview broadcast by CBS and TruTV (CNN and TruTV are owned by Time Warner), the president said he brought the prime minister to the game as a chance to see his very first basketball game but also "to see the great state of Ohio." Not said aloud but clear to all – a state that is likely to be a critical battleground in this year's presidential election.
The president said, "the heartland is what it's all about."
Prime Minister Cameron who was interviewed during the sports broadcast too described the game as "fast and furious" and confided the president told him he would help him set up his brackets. And the president said Cameron said he would teach him cricket.
Obama said that it is "terrific" that his alma mater Harvard earned a spot in the tournament this year but conceded "how far they go is a real question."
Cameron plugged the London summer Olympics inviting visitors and reporting all "is on time and on budget." Obama concluded the interview saying what really makes March Madness "wonderful" is that anybody, at least in the early contests, can attain his or her dream. And that's something the country can rally around.