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Obama to ambitious governors: 'Make yourselves at home' in White House

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[February 24, 2014]  By Paige Gance

WASHINGTON (Reuters)  President Barack Obama invited state governors, some eyeing runs at the presidency in 2016 and beyond, to "make yourselves at home" during a black-tie dinner at the White House on Sunday honoring governors in town for an annual meeting.

First lady Michelle Obama was flanked by two Republicans often cited as potential 2016 contenders: Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Mike Pence of Indiana.

Vice President Joe Biden, weighing a third run at the presidency in 2016, was seated between Wisconsin Republican Scott Walker and Massachusetts Democrat Deval Patrick, both thought to be potential candidates.

"Tonight we want to make sure that all of you make yourselves at home  to which I'm sure some of you are thinking: 'That's been the point all along,'" Obama quipped during his toast, drawing laughs from the governors.

"But keep in mind what a wise man once wrote: 'I am more than contented to be governor, I shall not care if I never hold another office.' Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt. So I guess plans change," he said.

The governors dined on tuna tartare and petite filet with Maryland crab ravioli, the White House said. Pop singer Sara Bareilles was the featured performer.

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New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, another possible 2016 candidate, was not at the dinner. ABC News reported he was at home to celebrate his daughter's birthday.

(Reporting by Paige Gance; writing by Roberta Rampton; editing by Peter Cooney)

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