Biden fondly recalls a less polarized era while hosting a picnic

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Biden welcomed hundreds of lawmakers, their families and aides to the White House’s first congressional picnic in three years Tuesday, speaking fondly of a bygone era when Democrats and Republicans could get along. , despite the different political opinions. .

“I wish we could do more of this so everyone gets to know each other well,” Biden said, dressed casually without a jacket or tie. The president recalled an increasingly colorful time on Capitol Hill, when lawmakers spent much more time socializing and getting to know each other’s families.

Those interactions, Biden said, helped lawmakers get along better. The president, who spent 36 years in the Senate, recalled the advice Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, gave him when he came to Washington as a young senator: spend time in the Senate Dining Room, which is for senators . alone, and meet new colleagues.

“It’s hard to dislike a colleague when you know your wife or husband has cancer,” Biden said. “It’s hard to look at someone you disagree with and make it personal when you know they have a son or daughter who has a problem.”

Although the White House picnic was interrupted by an impending thunderstorm, Biden had plenty of time to mingle with lawmakers and their families, snapping selfies and greeting them shortly before leaving for the Middle East.

The hundreds of guests on the South Lawn, which included White House aides, ate fried chicken, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, smoked barbecue brisket, vegetable sandwiches and Dove ice cream bars with wrappers emblazoned with the seal. presidential.

The White House said more than 250 lawmakers, including dozens of House and Senate Republicans, attended the picnic along with some cabinet officials and dozens of congressional aides. Republican lawmakers included Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

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