Obama invites Cantor and Ryan to state dinner for France

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Two top Republicans were on the list of White House allies, friends and donors invited to dine with President Obama and French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday.

Rep. Paul Ryan walked past reporters without saying a word to explain his appearance at the formal State Dinner. But in December, he signed off on a deficit-boosting budget deal for 2014 that caused little heartburn for Democrats. He’s also the leading GOP advocate for an immigration-boosting bill, which is also President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority for 2014.

Majority Leader Eric Canter was also on the guest list. If Obama is going to increase get a law that boosts the inflow of Democratic-leaning immigrants — now at roughly 1 million per year — he has to win the say-so of GOP chief Cantor, who is now facing a primary battle in home district.

The invitees included a slew of wealthy donors that Obama will milk to fund Democrats’ 2014 campaigns. They included infotech billionaire Irwin Jacobs, Wall Street’s Mark Gallogly, plus Elon Musk, John Goldman, Jonathan Lavine and New York real-estate mogul Constance Milstein and her husband, Jehan-Christophe de la Haye St. Hilaire.

He also invited Edith Windsor, one of the plaintiffs in the landmark 2013 Supreme Court case that struck down portions of a federal anti-gay marriage law, and Jason Collins, an openly gay former NBA player.

Obama made sure to distribute a few tickets to his allies in the nation’s influential culture industry. They include actresses Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mindy Kaling, fake conservative-blowhard Steven Colbert and Joanna Coles, editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine.

A few tickets went to media allies, and some influential reporters from the establishment media were also invited. The media attendees included CNN chief Jeff Zucker and New York Times boss Jill Abramson, plus three influential White House reporters — Steve Holland at Reuters, Julie Pace at Associated Press and Tangi Quéméner, a White House reporter for France’s main press agency, Agence France-Presse.

Obama also gave an invite to Al Sharpton, a former New York street politician who is now a host at MSNBC. Sharpton’s history of anti-Jewish invective, and his contribution to the 1995 murder of seven people at a shop he was picketing, are apparently just champagne under the bridge.

Claire Shipman, the senior journalist on ABC’s morning show, also turned up, because she’s married to White House spokesman Jay Carney. Their joint arrival was noted by a pool reporter, who reported that “Carney passed by your pooler with a laugh. Claire Shipman was wearing a gorgeous lacy red dress.”

Obama invited a handful of Democratic politicians, including the Democrats’ leader in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. He also invited three Democratic governors, suggesting that he wants to repair the damage done to state Democrats by the Tea Party whirlwind in 2010.

Few — if any — retail or manufacturing business leaders were on Obama’s list of friends. No famous conservative advocate got an invite.

The attendees include a slew of cabinet secretaries, plus several top defense officials. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, had seats.

Lots of French socialists, technocrats and friends of Hollande also got seats at the event.

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