Obama receives royal welcome
LONDON — In lavish style, President Obama and Queen Elizabeth II yesterday affirmed a bond between the United States and the United Kingdom that has strengthened through the sacrifice of war and a history of common values. As the queen put it, the relationship is “tried, tested and, yes, special.’’
For his part, the president, dressed in white-tie tuxedo for a glitzy dinner at Buckingham Palace, said in a toast that the relationship “never rests.’’
“We can have confidence in the partnership that our two countries share, based on the rock-solid foundation built during Queen Elizabeth’s lifetime of extraordinary service to the nation and to the world,’’ the president said at a dinner in which White House staffers mixed with US movie stars and British royalty.
Obama immersed himself in grandeur yesterday as the queen welcomed him to Buckingham Palace for the first day of a state visit that kept the president largely out of sight for most of the British public.
There was an elaborate arrival ceremony on the steps of the palace’s West Terrace, complete with a 41-gun salute; a tour of the queen’s private gallery, where the monarch highlighted items she thought would hold personal significance to the president; and a short meeting with newlyweds Prince William and his new wife, the duchess of Cambridge.
But the pomp and pageantry happened largely behind the palace walls. Though pictures of Obama’s visit blanketed British television, the president made no formal remarks, except for a brief statement on the deadly tornadoes in the United States.
The day stood in stark contrast to Obama’s stopover Monday in Ireland, where the US president with a touch of Irish in his family history set out to connect with the public. And the Irish returned the embrace, often literally, lining the streets of Moneygall, the tiny village that was home to Obama’s great-great-great grandfather, and packing central Dublin for the president’s speech on the deep bonds between the United States and Ireland.
Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron will hold substantial meetings today on Afghanistan, Libya, and counterterrorism, and the president will address the British Parliament, delivering a speech that aides say will offer reassurances that the United States still values its traditional allies in Europe.
Before delving back into heavy foreign policy matters, the Obamas were guests of the queen at a lavish banquet at Buckingham Palace last night. About 170 members of the royal family and other dignitaries were expected to attend.
Obama is only the second US president to be accorded a state visit in Britain during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, according to Buckingham Palace. Although most previous presidents have visited England and met the queen, a number of features are required by British protocol in order for the trip to be considered a state visit. George W. Bush is the only previous US president to be accorded a state visit, according to Buckingham Palace.
— Associated Press
Former N.Y. governor Pataki considers White House run Former New York governor George Pataki, who recently started an organization focused on reducing the federal debt, has not ruled out a 2012 presidential run. Pataki said last month that he will not run for president. But the recent decision of Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, may have made Pataki reconsider.
“I’m not a candidate at this point, but down the road you never say never,’’ Pataki said in an interview following a speech at New England College in Henniker, N.H., yesterday. “I’m not running now . . . We’ll see what happens over the course of the next month.’’
Pataki spent the morning having breakfast with a who’s who of New Hampshire’s Republican politicians, including several state senators, former Senate candidate Bill Binnie, and former congressional candidate Rich Ashooh. He later met with Republican House Speaker William O’Brien, House majority leader D.J. Bettencourt, and other House leaders.
Pataki’s stated goal was to promote his advocacy group No American Debt, which will start running ads in New Hampshire today attacking President Obama for ignoring plans to reduce the debt. But Pataki also criticized the Republican presidential candidates for not doing enough.
In his speech, Pataki singled out former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for criticizing the budget plan put forward by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and House Budget Committee Republicans. “You don’t have to agree with all the elements, but you have to give people credit for putting forward solutions,’’ Pataki said.
After the event, Pataki said he has not seen a serious plan for addressing the debt from any of the current candidates. “I’m disappointed that Mitch Daniels decided not to run,’’ Pataki said. “He was a person who did have a very serious approach to the deficit. I’m still waiting for someone who has that serious approach to the deficit and who has the ability to beat President Obama.’’
If he does run, Pataki is likely to make a similar argument as he did yesterday. In his speech, he attacked Obama’s fiscal record, and said the federal government could balance the budget in the same way Pataki says he did as governor of New York — by cutting the workforce and reducing costs of Medicare and Medicaid. He used as a “starting point’’ the ideas proposed by Ryan, Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission, and a Tea Party-backed plan proposed by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Wayne Lesperance, professor of political science at New England College, said a candidate like Pataki could play well in New Hampshire, where fiscal conservatism is often more important than social issues.
But if he does run, Pataki will have to defend his record to Republicans on non-fiscal issues. For example, Pataki is pro-choice and was instrumental in implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a Northeastern regional cap and trade program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions — which the Republican-led New Hampshire House recently voted to withdraw from.
— Shira Schoenberg