Barack Obama photo

Remarks at the Congressional Picnic

June 17, 2015

[At this point, the President approached the podium with the Presidential seal affixed.]

The President. That's right. It's the one with the sign on it there. [Laughter]

Audience member. Yeah!

The President. How is everybody doing today? Well, I want to welcome everybody to the South Lawn. And usually, it's broiling hot when we have our congressional picnic, so this is one of those days where we actually welcome a little cloud cover.

I'm going to be very brief because I want to shake as many hands as I can, although I want to warn in advance, I can't do a selfie with everybody. [Laughter]

Audience member. How about a kiss?

The President. A kiss I can give you. [Laughter]

The—my main message is, as is always true at this wonderful event, is just to say thank you. America faces enormous challenges. We face the challenge of making sure that the economy works for everybody and everybody has opportunity. We have international challenges from terrorism to climate change. But the thing that always gives me confidence that we're going to meet these challenges is because the American people are good and they are decent, and we've got a democracy that, as frustrating and messy as it can be sometimes, still represents the best hope for freedom and prosperity for any society.

And we are the longest continuous democracy on Earth. We have set the model and the tone for people around the world who aspire to the values that we cherish so dearly. There's a reason why, from every corner of the globe, striving, hopeful, talented people still want to come to the United States of America. And our job, together—mine as President and those of you who are serving in Congress—is to make sure that we are true to that commitment and true to those values.

And obviously, democracy can be contentious. There are times where people have deep, principled disagreements. But I hope that events like today remind us that ultimately, we're all on the same team, and that's the American team.

I also want to say thank you to the families, because there is enormous burdens that are placed on the spouses and the children of those who serve in Congress. I know—and Michelle knows really well—the nature of those burdens. And for you to sacrifice in your own ways is the only way that we are able to serve. And so we are very, very grateful for your support and your sacrifice.

And for the members of the staffs who are here, we want to say thank you as well, because you make us look good. And you have all the sacrifices, but you don't always get the attention. And we know that you work really, really hard to make this possible as well. So we are grateful to you.

So I want everybody to have fun. Eat up. And I do want to also say how wildly impressed I was at the quality of baseball when I went out to Nat Stadium the other day. You guys actually looked like you knew what you were doing! [Laughter] Flake, I saw you, man, at bat. You were all right. [Laughter]

So enjoy. Thank you. God bless you guys. Thank you. Oh, and can everybody please give it up for our outstanding Marine Band? They're the best. They can play anything!

NOTE: The President spoke at 6:37 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Sen. Jeffrey L. Flake.

Barack Obama, Remarks at the Congressional Picnic Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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