"Tonight we want to make sure all of you make yourselves at home," Obama joked, as quoted by CNN. "To which some of you are thinking, 'That's been the plan all along.' "
Among the attendees were Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), all considered contenders for the 2016 presidential race. Vice President Joe Biden, who has said there's "no obvious reason" for him not to launch a presidential bid, was also in attendance.
Another potential 2016 candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), skipped the White House dinner to attend his daughter's birthday.
Obama quoted Teddy Roosevelt to toast the state leaders.
"Keep in mind, a wise man once wrote, 'I'm more than contented to be governor and shall not care if I never hold another office,' " he said, as quoted by CNN.