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Obamas honor Mexico at state dinner

The White House serves up elegance, star power and extra security.

May 20, 2010|By Katherine Skiba, Tribune Newspapers

Reporting from Washington — President Obama's second official state dinner mixed elegance with an extra helping of security as he and First Lady Michelle Obama saluted Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala, Wednesday night.

Among the 200 dinner guests were Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Eva Longoria-Parker, comedian George Lopez and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.


FOR THE RECORD:
White House dinner: An article in Thursday's LATExtra section about President Obama's state dinner honoring the president of Mexico said two young Mexican singers entertained after the meal. The performers, Rodrigo y Gabriela, are guitarists. —

Longoria-Parker struck a political note in making her entrance, calling Arizona's new immigration law punitive.

Villaraigosa said he expected fair, comprehensive immigration reform under Obama.

Lopez told reporters: "I'm sitting with a president. They didn't tell me what country."

At the Obamas' first state dinner, in November, three uninvited guests slipped in. Three months later, Social Secretary Desiree Rogers resigned.

Wednesday's affair included heavy security.

"Quite a bit of security: three stops and several questions," said one guest, Maria Elena Salinas, a Miami-based anchor for Univision.

At least one guest was turned away for lack of proper ID, the Associated Press reported.

Kathryne Mudge said her husband, Arturo Valenzuela, an assistant secretary of State, was supposed to bring the necessary identification.

"We tried to be extra careful, but my husband is the absent-minded professor," she said.

Mudge and her husband returned about an hour later and were admitted.

Obama welcomed Calderon to "Casa Blanca" — the White House — and made a toast to "the dreams of our children."

"Together, may we realize those dreams. And together, may we deserve them — by going forward in partnership and respect," he said.

Calderon made a toast to the "happiness of both our great nations."

Michelle Obama wore a shimmery, lapis blue one-shouldered gown by Peter Soronen. Zavala chose a Macario Jimenez design — a purple floor-length ensemble with her trademark shawl and an Aztec-inspired collar.


FOR THE RECORD:
An article in Thursday's Latextra about President Obama's state dinner honoring the president of Mexico said two young Mexican singers entertained after the meal. Rodrigo y Gabriela are guitarists.

Guest chef Rick Bayless of Chicago helped design the four-course meal. The after-dinner entertainment included Beyonce and two young Mexican guitarists, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

kskiba@tribune.com

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