Obama thanks to Cabinet, Congress

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) --
Despite philosophical differences, Democrats and Republicans seek public office because they believe they can make America better, President Obama said Monday.



"I recognize democracy is not always easy and I recognize the profound differences in this room," Obama said during the toasting portion of the inauguration luncheon in the Statuary room of the U.S. Capitol.



"But I just want to say thank you for your service, and I want to thank your families for their service, because regardless of our political persuasions and perspectives, I know that all of us serve because we believe that we can make America [better] for future generations," Obama said. "And I'm confident that we can act in this moment, in a way that makes a difference for our children and our children's children."



Gifts were presented -- a flag that flew over Fort McHenry, Lenox crystal vases, photos and mementos -- and toasts were exchanged during the luncheon.



Obama called Vice President Joe Biden not only an "extraordinary partner, but an extraordinary friend."



The president also praised his wife Michelle and Biden's wife Jill, who partnered on behalf of U.S. military personnel.



Biden said he enjoyed the inaugural day lunch "more than anything we did in the Capitol. ... It always is a new beginning when we gather in this room."



Obama concluded with a toast to his wife.



"And I would like to offer one last toast, and that is to my extraordinary wife Michelle," he said. "There is controversy about the quality of the president, no controversy about the quality of our current first lady."



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