Barack Obama
Manuel Balce Ceneta  /  AP
President Barack Obama offers a toast with governors, government officials and their spouses at the 2011 Governors Dinner in the State Room of the White House in Washington on Sunday.
updated 2/28/2011 11:56:19 AM ET 2011-02-28T16:56:19

President Barack Obama welcomed the nation's governors to the White House on Sunday night, joking that the black-tie dinner shared some of the qualities of the Academy Awards taking place in Hollywood.

"I know some of you may be confused and think this is the Oscars," Obama said to laughter. "There are some similarities. First of all, everybody looks spectacular. And the second is this: If I speak too long, the music will start playing."

Video: A new foe for President Obama: Governors (on this page)

Obama welcomed the governors — many of them newly elected Republicans who rode November's wave to power — and urged collaboration.

Story: GOP governors undermine Obama agenda

"Our goal has to be to find ways to find common ground to work together. And I am confident we can do that moving forward," Obama said.

Obama hopes to hear ideas from the states on how to best repair the United States' slowly recovering economy when he meets Monday with the nation's governors. Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials will also be in attendance.

Story: Governors to feds: Stop hurting states

On Friday, Obama met privately with the Democrats; Monday's bipartisan affair will be open to reporters.

"Know that you've got a partner here in the White House," the president said Sunday. "If you look around the room, we come from a lot of different parts of the country and people may have different perspectives. But one thing that we all absolutely share is the belief in the American Dream and the confidence that when our people get opportunities, they've got the ingenuity, the stick-to-it-iveness and the drive to succeed."

Story: Making the puzzle fit in GOP/unions standoff

But Obama acknowledged the governors were on the front lines and often received the brunt of the criticism.

"Our federal system is a laboratory for democracy. In each of your states, you guys are trying all kinds of things. Oftentimes, your best ideas end up percolating up and end up becoming models and templates for the country," Obama said Sunday night as he welcomed the governors and their spouses to the White House for a black-tie dinner.

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Video: A new foe for President Obama: Governors

  1. Closed captioning of: A new foe for President Obama: Governors

    >> with the nation's governors today after telling them they have a friend in the white house .

    >> the president's agenda is colliding head-on with governors from healthcare to labor rights and stimulus projects. president obama is arguably facing the most resistance the white house ever has from the opposite party. ron brown is from "the national journal " group. that's always been a crutch for presidents. they can always pretend to find bipartisan support.

    >> that is -- this is a whole new ball game.

    >> there are no more switzerlands in american politics .

    >> each side, every asset is being politicized. if you look across the board with the white house and these state highways , there is more conflict than even bill clinton faced with the governors. what i want to know is whether someone will try to slap a subpoena on the president. you have 27 states and all, but two of them are republican governors suing over health care . suing over --

    >> rick scott who was the thorn in the side of the president on the public option who probably never thought, they regularly railed against this guy from the podium, medicare fraud , medicare fraud . he's at the white house today. . we have health care where they're fighting them over the legality. they want to get out of the maintenance effort and required to keep them on the roles of health care reform . they're resisting establishing exchanges and fighting over carbon regulation and fighting over public lands and with scott walker and money over high-speed rail and you're talking about a sustained series of conflicts and even after they win fights in congress and from the national journal , you characterize this and it's fair to say that health care reform is facing more extensive resistance from conservative states than any --

    >> look at the totality of it.

    >> and not only are they suing to overturn the law and not only are they petitioning to change -- fundamentally change the law.

    >> some are saying tim pawlenty before and the governor of alaska saying they're not going to implement this. the likelihood is as if the bill does survive its legal challenges and go forward. they will slow walk on implementation. they have a serious ongoing problem. in many cases they have workarounds in the law, but it is still a sub-optimal legislation if you're trying to do it around the governor. is there a single republican governor that they'll comfortably work with?

    >> schwarzenegger and crist. i don't think there's anybody quite in that mode. you are seeing much more -- even clinton was able to join with john engler and tommy thompson and at times they aligned with him against newt gingrich and house republicans. there was nothing quite like that anymore.

    >> ron brownstein and the national journal . it's an interesting read, thank you.

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