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Bidens entertain over 330 guests at first state dinner

WASHINGTON (AP) – The first White House state dinner of United States (US) President Joe Biden’s administration drew big names from fashion, entertainment, politics and business who turned out to help celebrate French President Emmanuel Macron and the return of large social events after the pandemic.

There were kisses all around as the Bidens stepped out on the North Portico to welcome the Macrons – Jill Biden in an off-the-shoulder navy Oscar de la Renta gown, Brigitte Macron in a high-necked ivory one by Louis Vuitton.

Jill Biden’s open invitation as the foursome headed inside: “Enjoy the evening.”

Other guests trickled in via a side entrance, seeming keen to do just that.

First to arrive: Louisiana Gov John Bel Edwards, followed not long after by Gov John Carney, from Biden’s home state of Delaware.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus whizzed by the press, pausing only to say that, yes, she’d been to a state dinner before and it was all “very exciting.”

Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert said nothing as guests passed through a White House decorated for the holidays and boarded trolleys for the ride down the South Lawn to a heated party tent. Shoe designer Christian Louboutin – wearing a crystal bolo tie – said “I have no idea” when asked how many women might be wearing his red-soled shoes for the night, and wouldn’t hazard a guess. Vogue editor Anna Wintour also was among the 338 names on the guest list.

Biden family made the cut too: Adult children, Hunter and Ashley, and sister Valerie Biden.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pose for a photo with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron in Grand Foyer of the White House. PHOTO: AP

Others attending: Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, actor Jennifer Garner, singer John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Ada Limon, poet laureate of the US. Garner was among those wearing velvet, a popular choice on a night when temperatures dipped into the 30s.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was there, as was House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to succeed Pelosi. She got a seat at the head table with the Bidens and Macrons; McCarthy did not.

Asked how he felt about attending a dinner with Hunter Biden, whom Republicans are keen to investigate when they take control of the House in January,” McCarthy said, “I’m at dinner with my mum and I’m going to have a great time.”

Other lawmakers were excited to introduce family members who accompanied them.

Rep Lisa Blunt Rochester, who wore a royal blue one-shoulder gown and elbow-length black gloves, brought her niece, Hannah Carter, who told her aunt the affair “feels like Bridgerton,” referring to the Netflix romance series.

Before dinner, which ran late, Biden offered a toast “to the history that binds us and the values that still unite us, and the future we’re going to forge together. Vive la France and God Bless America.”

“I do hope you had a great dinner,” Macron joked as he opened his reciprocal toast to “Dear Joe.” Guests, many of them presumed to be hungry, laughed.

“This evening we are not just honoured and moved, but we feel the importance of this moment,” Macron said. “It means a lot for all of us, because this is our history.”

Former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stopped to talk shop before Tuesday’s runoff Senate election in Georgia, where Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is seeking reelection.

“I think it’s going to be a great night for Georgia on Tuesday … just gotta make sure people continue to turn out.”


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