From: Sabrina Siddiqui [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 7:54 PM
To: Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO
Subject: Pool Report #5 -- Congressional Picnic
POTUS ventured outside of the Oval Office at roughly 6:54 p.m. to address the congressional picnic. Taking the stage set up on the south lawn, POTUS first thanked the marine band that was playing a diverse range of tunes -- including Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" prior to his arrival.
"I was rockin' out a little bit in the Oval Office," POTUS joked as he began his remarks.
Sporting a button down slightly rolled up at the sleeves and navy blue tie, POTUS spoke for just under nine minutes. He reflected on the Orlando shooting, the often contentious nature of democracy, and the meaning of public service. (Quotes are below.)
POTUS then worked a rope line, although he warned he'd be enforcing a "no selfie rule" else he'd be there for four hours.
The arrangements on the south lawn were laid out as a map of the US, with what your pool agreed was a road trip/travel theme. Tables were adorned with stop signs, airport signs, parking signs, walk signs and traffic cones, among other transportation-related signage.
Among the members of Congress spotted were House Speaker Paul Ryan, House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Jeff Flake, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin and Patrick Leahy, Reps. Mark Takano and Mark Sanford. Leahy was enthusiastically snapping photos from an DSLR.
Your pooler looked longingly at attendees noshing on steak and ice cream sundaes while drinking out of red solo cups. There was also a face painting stand and colorful bouquets of balloons to entertain the children.
POTUS departed the picnic at 7:32 p.m., heading back to the Oval office after shaking hands and doting in particular on the babies he encountered along the way. A collective "Aww" was heard each time POTUS held one of the little ones.
Quotes from speech -- please check against the transcript as per usual
"It is so good to see all of you at what is just a wonderful event. One of the only things that I don't like about this event is each year I see some of the same kids and they're getting a lot taller, which means I'm getting a lot older."
"For members of Congress to be able to bring their families together on an incredible day like this is a true blessing."
"Obviously this has been a difficult week for America, because all of us are still grieving for those who were lost in Orlando. All of us still have our thoughts and prayers for the families, those who were killed but also for those who are still recovering and for the city of Orlando."
"One of the things I said when I was talking to the mayor, Buddy Dyer, down there, I emphasized that this is something that could happen anywhere. These could be our kids or our brothers or our cousins or our nephews, nieces."
"And at moments like this it's critically important for us to remind ourselves of what binds us together as a people. That regardless of race or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation, we're all Americans and we look out for each other. We celebrate those things we hold dear and have in common, like love of family and love of country, we mourn together when part of that family is hurt."
"I know that that's something that all of you feel whenever things like this happen ... We squeeze our families a little more tight and we're reminded of what's important in life."
"I know that we're at a contentious time in our political life in this country. The truth is though it's important not to romanticize the past -- democracy's always been contentious and it's always messy, because we're a big country and we're a diverse country and people are not going to agree 100 percent of the time on some of the big issues we care about."
"But one of the things I've tried to emphasize and I spoke at a couple commencements this past month, I said, one of the things about democracy is that it works because we try to compromise even when you think you're a hundred percent right. In that sense it's a lot like marriage. Because as fierce and as important as the debates are, the institutions that we built, the constitution upon which we're founded, the traditions and the habits and the heart that's allowed us to live in this greatest country on earth, those are what's lasting. Those are more permanent and more important than any immediate difference or debate."
"I think it's also important for us to remember at a time when partisanship is seemingly at an all-time high, none of us is born Democrat or Republican. And the labels we apply to ourselves, they mean something -- they indicate commitments or sets of principles that may not always mesh up. But the things that really matter in our lives, they can't be captured by a party label. The things that bind this country together transcend political party and it's useful for us to remember that as well when we are engaging in these debates."
"I'm only going to be here a little bit longer. My lease is running out and I'm already trying to look at the carpet and the walls to make sure I get my deposit back. But what I've told my staff and I hope those of you who are serving are keeping in mind every single day, is that this is an extraordinary privilege, our chance to serve the American people, our chance to in some very small way shape history in ways that we hope are better. It's precious and it's a privilege and we should every single day count our blessings and apply ourselves to the work with an enthusiasm and a vigor that is appropriate for the privilege that the people of America have bequeathed upon us."
POTUS thanked families for making sacrifices that include soccer games, dance recitals and other occasions.
"That, too, should make us sober and serious about the work that we do, because if we're not actually making this country better than it's not worth the sacrifice. We owe it not just to the people who elected us but also to our own families to make sure that we make the very best of it."
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