Connect with us


Inside Biden’s State Dinner: Hot Dog Talk and a Party That Lasted Until 1 A.M.

News Agencies



From left, first lady Jill Biden, President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, arrive for a state dinner at the White House in Washington on Thursday, Dec.1, 2022. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

From left, first lady Jill Biden, President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, arrive for a state dinner at the White House in Washington on Thursday, Dec.1, 2022. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden was spending his first state dinner alongside French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday when a guest seated at the head table with them turned the conversation toward the merits of American cuisine.

As Macron and his wife, Brigitte, indulged in a selection of American delicacies, Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked Biden, a man with uncomplicated tastes, what foods his country was best known for.

Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times


“He said: ‘Hot dogs, ice cream and spaghetti,’” according to the younger Pelosi, who was seated next to Macron. Then her mother chimed in, telling the (somewhat puzzled) French president that she eats a hot dog every day in the cloakroom.

“I had the best seat in the house,” the speaker’s daughter said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

That’s probably true.


At the state dinner, held to celebrate the relationship between the United States and France, guests swept past journalists and mingled for a marathon cocktail hour as they waited to be received by the president and Jill Biden, the first lady, and Macron and his wife.

The lengthy hellos, which were supposed to run about an hour, led to a late evening for Biden, who stayed out sipping soda and chatting with Macron until 12:30 a.m., according to several observers.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., an ally of the president, said his interactions with both leaders were “warm and positive” and called the experience “a delightful evening where we got to celebrate the best of the Delaware spirit.”


As the two presidents greeted their guests, photos turned into hugs. Hugs turned into chats — and shoptalk as Biden conversed with other Democrats about upcoming legislation and the primary election calendar.

And then all hell threatened to break loose when the bartenders ran out of glassware, depriving some invitees of necessary social lubricant after years spent in a pandemic. That’s when it helps to invite veterans such as Terry McAuliffe, a guest and the former governor of Virginia, who estimates he has been to more than a dozen of these fetes. He knew to keep close to the bar and enjoy the wait.


“For me, having been a veteran of these, you wait until the end” to jump into a receiving line, McAuliffe said. He had no complaints. “To see all those different people and have conversations with them — that part could’ve gone on all night.”

At one point, it seemed like it might.

“You have two talkers,” another guest, Mike Barnicle, said about the evening’s host and guest of honor. The revelry led to a late evening for the president, who stayed out chatting about topics that included sausages with Macron, according to several observers. A State Department official said the party lasted until just after 1 a.m.


Since the state dinner itself didn’t appear on plates until 10:30 p.m., some early birds left the party: Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough slipped out shortly after, according to their colleague, Barnicle. (“Morning Joe” wasn’t going to host itself.) Many of the 300 or so guests arrived home well after 1 a.m., and those without security details were pointed toward a nearby street to hail a cab.

The White House had no immediate comment.

“I think everyone, including our leaders, are a bit tired this morning,” said Ambassador Rufus Gifford, chief of protocol for the United States, in an interview Friday, shortly after he saw the Macrons off at Joint Base Andrews. Totally worth it, he said.


“For the first state visit of the United States in three years,“ he said, “we wanted to make sure we essentially savored every minute.”

A weekday party that lasts until after midnight is unusual in Official Washington, a stuffy little pocket within a much livelier capital where book parties pass for star-studded events. Embassy soirees — where people like to go to see everyone they already see all the time — are hot tickets. The disciplined citizenry often climb into bed in time to squeeze in a workout or appear on their eponymous morning shows.

No, this is not relatable to the rest of the country, or even to those who operate just beyond the privileged confines of a crowded white tent on the South Lawn.


But the human impulse to gather — particularly after the worst part of a lengthy pandemic — is universal. Officials who planned the event said the need for Biden and Macron to project a united front against the Russian invasion of Ukraine was urgent.

“The magnificence of American soft power was on full display,” Gifford said. “These personal relationships are such the crux of American foreign policy, and that’s why these matter so much.”

Gifford watched members of the French delegation closely to make sure they were enjoying themselves — and, crucially, the food, which included a selection of American cheeses and triple-cooked butter potatoes.


“The plates were empty, the glasses were empty,” he reported. In other words, none of the French pointed out that the brut rosé and chardonnay on offer was, after all, “American wine,” as the French ambassador did at the state dinner hosted by the Clintons in 1996.

As America’s old alliance was carefully nursed, flashes of bipartisanship that would perhaps surprise the more tribe-minded supporters of lawmakers appeared. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, approached Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who is attempting to become the next House speaker, to shake hands. That happened more than once.

A senior White House official, who spoke anonymously to describe private conversations, said that conversations with Republicans were kept light — talk of sports took the place of more contentious topics such as, say, looming oversight investigations. Guests were discouraged from working the room because of protocol reasons, an attendee said, so it became hard to get a good look at who was doing what.


Not impossible, though.

“I actually saw Steve Scalise smile,” Barnicle said of the Republican Louisiana congressman. Then he delivered a camera-ready analysis: “Last night, at least for a moment in time, they achieved something that the world would love to see in Ukraine: a cease-fire.”

In the cold light of day, the candlelit comity may just have been a moment of calm before attendees return to their post-lame-duck battle positions.


McCarthy appeared less jovial — “I’m at dinner with my mom,” he told a reporter when asked about his thoughts about attending a dinner with Hunter Biden, the president’s son, whose financial dealings are a prime investigative target of an ascendant Republican House. (Pelosi did not interact with McCarthy.)

But for Joe Biden and Jill Biden — whose adherence to coronavirus protocols meant that they did not have an inauguration celebration, an Easter egg roll, or a long slate of holiday parties their first year — guests said their interactions had the element of making up for lost time.

The first lady wore a beaded Oscar de la Renta creation, a choice that called back to several predecessors who favored the designer at heavily photographed moments.


Joe Biden, who did not enjoy the time he had to spend hemmed in by his Secret Service detail because of coronavirus worries, got a few hours to enjoy the fun part of being a statesman. He spent his evening slinging his arm around guests and chatting with his guest of honor.

The entertainment portion, by Jon Batiste, didn’t start until about an hour after dinner began. Then, as the evening turned into early morning, the musician began asking “the boss” if it was OK to play one more song. The president kept responding with a thumbs-up, according to an attendee in clear view of the president’s reaction.

Patrick Dillon, who attended with his wife, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the White House deputy chief of staff, enjoyed spending the evening with a “very diverse, very accomplished crowd.” He added that “there was also this sense that even in a challenging few years, there’s good and important stuff to celebrate, and it’s needed.”


So as the clock ticked well past midnight, Batiste, a Louisiana native, called out from the stage and asked others from his home state to get up and dance. He began to weave a path through the tables, stopping to draw others — including his former “Late Show” colleague, Stephen Colbert — out of their seats, according to a senior administration official who watched the end of the program.

Although the morning would hold more negotiations, more meetings, more television hits, there were perks worthy of waiting until the finale. The night closed with a scene that would have been hard for anyone in Washington to fathom just two years ago: Colbert dancing with the White House press secretary.

© 2022 The New York Times Company

Continue Reading


Breaking News

Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment3 hours ago

Stephen Dorff slams ‘garbage’ superhero movies, Marvel’s ‘Blade’ reboot: ‘We already did it and made it the best’

Stephen Dorff attends the premiere of his movie “Divinity” on Jan. 21 at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in Park...

Entertainment3 hours ago

Yoshiki, glam-rocker responsible for ‘changing Japan’s culture,’ eyes U.S. stardom with supergroup the Last Rockstars: ‘It’s kind of cool to break some kind of boundary again’

When Japanese musician/composer/producer Yoshiki founded seminal glam-metal band X Japan back in 1982, pounding the drums in kabuki-esque facepaint, peroxide-blond...

Entertainment6 hours ago

Britney Spears asks fans to respect her privacy after police welfare check: ‘Things went a little too far’

Britney Spears says things went “too far” after fans called police to her home. (Photo: FilmMagic) Britney Spears broke her...

Entertainment6 hours ago

Camila Mendes details struggles with eating disorder: ‘I was really afraid of eating carbs’

Camila Mendes opens up about recovering from an eating disorder. (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) Camila Mendes is opening up about...

Entertainment7 hours ago

Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes mediating with ABC amid suspension: ‘It’s all a huge mess,’ says source

T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach’s fate at GMA3 unclear as the two begin a mediation with ABC. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Entertainment11 hours ago

‘Shazam 2’ Trailer Highlights the Villainous Daughters of Atlas

A new Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer has been released, giving fans a closer look at the upcoming DC...

Entertainment11 hours ago

Salma Hayek’s see-through dress leaves Channing Tatum speechless: ‘I have no comment’

Salma Hayek stuns in a see-through dress at the premiere for Magic Mike’s Last Dance. (Photo: Getty Images) Salma Hayek...

Entertainment11 hours ago

Succession season 4 teaser promises more warring, more Wambsgans, and a wedding

Succession will return for its fourth season March 24, HBO announced today. And we also got us our first, predictably...


Latest Sports

Sports35 mins ago

Greg Olsen braces to be bounced from top Fox booth by Tom Brady

Former NFL tight end Greg Olsen knew when he ascended to the No. 1 booth at Fox this year that...

Sports55 mins ago

Arizona Cardinals head coach search: Five candidates remain after two make decisions

The Arizona Cardinals are busy lining up interviews with head coach candidates.

Sports1 hour ago

3 fights break out 16 seconds apart in Flyers vs. Wild game

It was Fight Night in St. Paul on Thursday as the Wild took on the Flyers in a heated matchup.

Sports2 hours ago

NBA All-Star starters 2023: Joel Embiid not selected in Eastern Conference frontcourt

Joel Embiid, the Eastern Conference's leading scorer with 33.4 points per game, was not selected as an All-Star starter. By...

Sports2 hours ago

Gio Reyna scores second straight winner in second game since USMNT World Cup saga

Reyna did it again Wednesday, just three days after marking his return from the World Cup with a winner.

Sports3 hours ago

Rui Hachimura’s well-rounded skills on display in Lakers debut

Forward Rui Hachimura made a number of shots from the post, mid-range and long distance in the Lakers' victory over...

Sports3 hours ago

Refs miss key call on go-ahead Klay Thompson shot vs. Grizzlies, NBA confirms

The NBA's Last Two Minute Report confirmed the refs missed a call on Klay Thompson's go-ahead 3-pointer in the Warriors'...

Sports3 hours ago

Blame game fail: Dak, Bills coaches are just fine

Of course there will be overreactions to playoff losses, but cooler heads should prevail when it comes to Dak Prescott...

Technology Hot News

Technology1 week ago

Led by "Amazon" and "Microsoft" .. the technology giants are planning to lay off 64,000 employees

After 10 years of driving the stock market bull run, big tech companies are racing to downsize staff to adapt...

Technology1 week ago

Apple introduces MacBooks with new M2 processors

Yesterday, Tuesday, Apple unveiled MacBooks powered by the new, faster “M2 Pro” and “M2 Max” processor chips, in a surprise...

Technology1 week ago

All you need to know about the upcoming Galaxy S23 phones from Samsung

Samsung has officially announced that the (Galaxy Unpacked 2023) event will be held this year on Wednesday, February 1, which...

Technology1 week ago

FTX Exchange Announces Hacking and Stolen $415 Million in Cryptocurrency

Bankrupt American cryptocurrency firm FTX announced today, Wednesday, that $415 million in cryptocurrency has been hacked and stolen from the...

Technology1 week ago

Because of a "fraudulent tweet"… Elon Musk's trial begins

Elon Musk's trial began Tuesday in San Francisco with the selection of jury members who will have to decide whether...

Technology1 week ago

An electric spoon replaces salt and spices, but with conditions

Experts have developed an electric spoon that is able to replace spices and flavors and affect the taste buds in...

Technology2 weeks ago

The biggest dangers of using tracking devices.. so you can escape?

If you spot an unknown Bluetooth tagging device, there are ways to disable the device so it can't track your...

Technology2 weeks ago

New Twitter.. For You tab to web version

The Twitter platform announced that it will bring the new tab (For You), which launched last Tuesday for iPhones and...