February 2nd, 2009
04:40 PM ET
6 years ago

Malveaux: Inside Obama's Super Bowl party

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received a call from the president after winning the Super Bowl Sunday night.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received a call from the president after winning the Super Bowl Sunday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The White House theater was packed, all 40 seats filled, so guests spilled out into the East Wing, where big TV sets were set up overlooking the first lady's garden. The Super Bowl game blasted from the theater, but Sunday's party hosted by the president and first lady focused more on family.

Attendees say about 75 people showed up, including several dozen children from age 2 on up.

The children gathered around a Nintendo Wii where, Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent said, his 8-year-old son, Jack, took on two sisters determined to win. No, not the two sisters who live upstairs.

President Barack Obama, wearing a casual button-down shirt, walked from room to room serving his guests brownies, and oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. Michelle Obama worked the crowd, too.

There were hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, chips and salsa, soft pretzels, hot fudge ice cream and pizza.

The crowd was diverse. Attending were Attorney General-designate Eric Holder, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, wounded soldiers, and plenty of children running around in oversized jerseys.

Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, decked out in an Arizona Cardinals jersey, placed a wager with Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, whose wife and kids donned Steelers gear. The loser would have to wear the other guy's team jersey when the House returned on its first full day in session on Wednesday.

Franks accepted his loss Monday, saying he'd be wearing the Steelers jersey –"It's always important to be magnanimous in victory and humbling in defeat."

Franks, who had voted against the House version of the stimulus plan, said he and the president did not talk about the economic package, but rather about their children. Franks now has 6-month-old twins, a boy and a girl.

He said the president was "very gracious." The Arizona congressman gave the president a Cardinals jersey with the number 40. It is the number of former Cardinals player Pat Tillman, who left the team to join the military and was killed in Afghanistan.

Franks said Obama responded, "I'd be honored to accept that."

He was making no political statement about the war in giving the president the shirt, he said: "He was a very famous Cardinal who personified everything that is noble. The men who are on front lines so some can stay home and watch the Super Bowl."

Later several guests cracked up when a young boy approached Obama and asked, "Mr. President. Where is the bathroom? Can you tell me where the bathroom is?"

Obama responded with a smile, "How would I know? I've only been living here 10 days."

Despite a healthy group of Arizona representatives, Steelers' fans outnumbered the Cardinals. Among them were Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers Rep. Patrick Murphy and Sen. Bob Casey.

Attendees described the cheering as "somewhat restrained" and any foul language was "under control."

Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican representing Pennsylvania's 15th District, said the party was "really fun." But he warned it wouldn't necessarily change his view about the president's stimulus plan.

Dent voted against the House version and said, "I take each issue on a case-by-case basis. There are areas on which I agree and disagree. I think it's important to have some kind of stimulus package, it just depends on what's in it. I'll have to see the revised version."

But politics aside, Dent said his family had a ball. "I really commend the president for reaching out. Very smart."

Franks agreed.

"It's always good for members of Congress and the president to personalize and humanize each other, regardless of what events they face together in the future," he said. "The hope is it will diminish politics and encourage working together for the country's best interest."


Filed under: Michelle Obama • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    So, a party is important while I'm watching my 401(k) dwindle and certainly cannot afford a party! This crap makes me puke!

    February 2, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Diana Ewing NJ

    It is a start to take away the good/bad image of each party and see that we all are human... but it will be a difficult road..ahead.

    A lot of damage has been done over time especially these last eight years.... and the eight years before were just as bad

    February 2, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Ray Ray

    That's so nice.... millions of American's are out of work but the Obama's think it "ok" to waste tax-payer dollars on multi-big-screen TVs and throw a Superbowl party. Wonder how much extra it costs for the increased Secret Service having the party spill out onto the White House lawn?

    February 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Meka

    COMING TOGETHER!

    February 2, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. kshaw

    wish i was there or there was a video. sounds fun.

    February 2, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. Lisa P

    What, no guacamole? No Buffalo wings? Outrageous! Unamerican! The White House will hear from me about this! ;-)

    February 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. TjayeInLA

    Who knew that human beings were allowed to live in the White House. I love that the most powerful man in the nation is determined to be the most respected man in the nation.

    February 2, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Pablo

    Come on CNN, 1984 this comment, thought censor it please.

    Well, THIS IS NOT NEWS!!! Of course we care about Obama and his decisions, but no-one cares about his parties.
    You call this news? this is unimportant, everyone had a superbowl party.

    February 2, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. gerryluimes

    Ms. Suzanne Malveau may be biased,but then again,she may be a straight shooter.Her account confirms clearly that the country has submitted to a different type of president ,whose apparent unique character is being positively accepted by many countries,even those previously "disliking" the USA. Perhaps not only will the Dems and the Reps commence to see eye to eye,but above all the international commumnity as well.Inspite of macro economic trouble fervently seeking solutions,more cooperation in itself would be a win situation!

    February 2, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  10. Chris E

    I guess the President have to have some fun like everyone else, Man to have been in the room just to hear what they was saying would have been all the fun I needed.

    February 2, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. Modest Republican

    I'd party it up with the President of the United States anyway. Steelers win. Take that Presidential Cardinals Fan! HAHA!

    February 2, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. bob j

    its great to see our president being down to earth and acting like a real person i really think he is going to get this country moving in the right direction what a refreshing change

    February 2, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Peter

    I like the article, but did Mr. President show the boy the bathroom finally.....that was funny...

    February 2, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. Deuce

    I wonder what type of stimulus the cardinal fans are gonna get?? 50% of the Joy from PA should be spread to AZ.

    At least everyone will sleep good at night!

    February 2, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. AGoodScout

    It is so encouraging to hear that people and their families, from both sides of the aisle, were able to get together to enjoy a great American tradition. I do hope the Obamas continue reaching out to others in the hope of advancing a common good. We don't all have to agree (and shouldn't) but taking the hostility in Washington down a notch is certainly a good thing.

    February 2, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. Mari

    That's wonderful that our President enjoyed the Super Bowl with friends and foes alike!

    February 2, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Dahl

    President Obama’s invitation to the Super Bowl without regard to the invitee’s political party and not discussing politics may indeed show them how to personalize and humanize those they differ with. They may someday communicate and negotiation rather than just “fight to be right” and life as we know it in DC will change forever.

    If this works then, with dignity, the United States can intervene and guide Israel and Palestine (and other nations) toward communication and peace. But as of now our own two party’s are unable to listen to each other and come to common ground. Teach by example.

    In my 70 years I have watched each President bring more and more conflict between the two party’s. I was impressed that in two years Obama campaigned and addressed his disagreements and criticism’s to his individual opponent and never toward “the (or those) Republicans“. Also very apparent that he did not say “God Bless America” like other candidates, he said “God bless the United States of America” The first shows he is a negotiator, the second shows he is inclusive – subtle, but we caught it.

    February 2, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. stephanie

    Pablo,

    It's an indication that the mood/culture has changed. News can be just as diverse as people are and it doesn't always have to be bad. We all can use light-hearted news – don't you think? Let's not be too uptight. Take it easy my friend and laugh a little in spite of it all.

    February 2, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. i was there

    How funny is this!!!! CNN you are too much!!!! Obama served "brownies" and Michelle "worked the crowd"

    What kind of party was this again?

    February 2, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. adods

    Wow! A president who sees himself as a servant of the people not as a ruler to be served. That is change I can believe in. Well done Mr. President!

    February 2, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Veronica

    We have a very cool President.

    We love you President Obama..and your family

    February 2, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. max

    The part of this story that is important is the presence of a wii over an xbox 360. buy american!

    I have a wii myself. I just thought it was a bit ironic.

    February 2, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  23. Mike Dallas

    Sounds like it was an overflowing crowd and seems as though a good time was had by all.

    Except maybe for one antsy little boy...

    February 2, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Barb

    Other presidents have probably enjoyed the annual Superbowl celebration. They've invited some of the guys over. Male bonding.
    This president gets it right. he invites FAMILIES. I like that. The Republicans sound like they are in therapy. Look, guys. It's OK to support the Stimulus package and still feel like you are your own person. You only give up your independence when you put your party above your principles. In your hearts you know you want to support the president. Because he's a good guy and the package is a good package. So yeah, a nip and a tuck to save some face, then do the right thing...vote for the stimulus.

    February 2, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. Barb

    Can I ask why you are covering Obama at the White House when you NEVER did this to Bush.

    February 2, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
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