Speaking at a White House dinner before House and Senate members from both parties and administration officials, President Obama received a standing ovation at the mention of the operation that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.“You know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” Obama said, after people had returned to their seats. “We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics. I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counterterrorism professionals who made the mission possible. I also want to thank members of Congress from both parties, who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. Without your support they could not do what they do.”
The President framed bin Laden’s death as the latest in a series of moments that offer a chance for the country to overcome partisan differences.
“I know that that unity that we felt on 9/11 has frayed a little bit over the years, and I have no illusions about the difficulties, the debates that will have to be engaged in in the weeks and months to come,” he said. “But I also know there have been several moments like this during the course of this year that have brought us together as an American family, whether it was the tragedy in Tucson or, most recently, our unified response to the terrible storms that have taken place in the South. Last night was one of those moments. And so tonight it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face.”
Among those in attendance were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“But to all of you here tonight, we are joyful that you could join us,” Obama concluded. “And please have a little bit of fun.”