A Bipartisan Super Bowl Sunday at the White House?

By MichaelJames

Feb 5, 2010 6:35pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Karen Travers report:

The president this weekend will host his annual bipartisan Super Bowl party at the White House to watch the Indianapolis Colts play the New Orleans Saints. This year however, only one lone Republican member of Congress will be attending.

In a list of Democratic members of Congress on the RSVP list, Rep.Joseph Cao, R-La., is the only Republican. Cao was the only House Republican to vote for health care reform.

The members of Congress and Cabinet members attending are:

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif.
Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va.
Rep. Joseph Cao, R-La.
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind.
Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind.
Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn.
Secretary Shaun Donovan
Secretary Arne Duncan
Attorney General Eric Holder
Administrator Lisa Jackson
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Ambassador Susan Rice
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary Eric Shinseki
Secretary Tom Vilsack

In addition, service members who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan and their families also will be among the guests Sunday.

Last year, the Obama administration also made an effort to host a bipartisan Super Bowl bash, but with a little more Republican representation.

Of the 15 members of Congress who attended, four were Republicans.

Given the political climate now, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked this week, before the guest list was released, about the annual event.

“I think that the president certainly was under no illusion that having members of both parties here to watch a football game was somehow going to wipe away years of rhetoric and mistrust,” Gibbs said.

Politics aside, the president has thrown his support behind the Saints.

“I think both teams are terrific. I guess I'm rooting a little bit for the Saints as the underdog partly just because when I think of what's happened in New Orleans over the last several years and how much that team means to them,” the president told ABC’s Diane Sawyer.

Obama was, of course, referring to Hurricane Katrina, which swept through New Orleans in 2005. Parts of the city were destroyed from the flooding that resulted when the city’s levees suffered breaches.

The Saints’ home stadium, the Superdome, was an evacuation site for residents in the days following Katrina. Images of sick, hungry and homeless people in New Orleans horrified the nation. The Superdome became the prime symbol of the government’s failure in the aftermath of the storm.

The Saints left New Orleans for the 2005 season but returned to an emotional grand opening of the Superdome in 2006, after a year of frantic renovations and repairs. 

This is the first-ever Super Bowl for the Saints, a team that was a punch line in professional football for years (known at one point as the “Aints” for their ineptitude) but is much beloved by Louisianans.

Indianapolis is trying for its second Super Bowl (the Colts won in 2007). Adding to the typical Super Bowl hype is the story line of the Manning family. Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning’s father, Archie Manning, played quarterback for 10 seasons in New Orleans and still calls the Big Easy home. The Manning family played an active and visible role in the city after Katrina.

-Sunlen Miller and Karen Travers

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