From: Eilperin, Juliet
Sent: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 9:16 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO
Subject: Travel pool report #11: The state dinner
At 8:10 pm ART, the pool was ushered into Shield Hall, or the Room of Emblems, at the Néstor Kirchner Cultural Center. (Background information on the center is at the bottom of this report.) The room was softly lit, and there were several dozen round tables that each sat 12 people. There was floor-to-ceiling greenery behind the podium where both presidents gave toasts, and there were bowls of white roses on each of the tables, as well as other large, white floral arrangements and additional greenery throughout the room.
The crowd count, per the pooler, is 390.
The foreign print pooler will send a report on President Macri's toast, so this report includes only quotes from President Obama's remarks. The toast lasted about six minutes, and again, please check them against the transcript.
Obama began by indicated that he would take up the offer Macri made in his toast, to host them once again next year in Bariloche.
"Let me say at the outset, I will not make a liar out of you and we will make sure to come back" the president said.
He noted that in 1961 John F. Kennedy met in Florida with Argentina's President Arturo Umberto Illia, and "one of the agenda items was what to do about Cuba." Obama made a point of saying he was "only four months old" at the time, and Macri was a toddler, but "almost 55 years later" an American president was coming to Argentina to help celebrate "a new and very different era in our hemisphere."
"I'm here in Buenos Aires because, Mr. President, the world has noticed your eagerness" to reengage the global community, Obama said.
The president also emphasized the similarities between the two nations. "We share the same values of freedom and opportunity, a commitment to justice and human rights, the rule of law," Obama said, adding that both presidents "try to live up to the example of a singular Argentinian," Pope Francis.
He added they also share a pioneering spirit: "We call it cowboys, you call it gauchos," and said, "I have been intrigued to visit a country that maybe eats more red meat than the United States. That's hard to find."
"My hope that this is a new beginning," Obama said, though he pointed out to Macri he was near the end of his term and "you are just getting started." But he expressed optimism the two countries could continue to work together. "And if we do, that will be good for the world."
Obama ended with a quote from Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, whose work he has cited three times today as one of his college favorites. The quote, he said, was "And now, I think that in this country we have a certain right to hope."
One note: a quick search suggests the president left out the last phrase in the quote, which conveys a slightly more pessimistic sentiment: ""And now, I think that in this country we have a certain right to hope, nothing more than to hope."
At 8:25 pm ART the pool was ushered out, and is holding downstairs. As we left, a phalanx of waiters lined up bearing what appeared to be a delicious raw tuna appetizer.
The pool is holding until the cultural performance at the state dinner begins.