WASHINGTON — President Obama and Mitt Romney both celebrated the Fourth of July on Wednesday, with Obama leading a military naturalization ceremony and a White House picnic, while Romney took part in holiday festivities in Wolfeboro, N.H.
The naturalization ceremony for active-duty troops was held in the East Room of the White House, and is the third such ceremony led by Obama. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano joined in to deliver to oath of allegiance, and five other administration officials, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, held similar events across the country.
“This is one of my favorite things to do,” Obama said during his address. “It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity and bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.”
Obama also took the opportunity to urge Congress to pass immigration reform, following the failure of the DREAM Act in the Senate, and the Obama administration’s recent declaration that it would no longer deport young illegal immigrants who crossed the border as children, provided they meet certain criteria.
“The lesson of these 236 years is clear — immigration makes America stronger. It positions America to lead in the 21st century. These young men and women are testaments to that,” he said of the 25 families gathered for the proceedings.
After the afternoon’s picnic for military and administration families, Obama will begin preparations for a two-day bus tour set to being Thursday, which will take him through Toledo, Parma, Akron and Sandusky, Ohio, and Pittsburgh.
Romney, who has been attending a family reunion in Wolfeboro over the course of several days, took part in a parade in the town, which was the former Massachusetts governor’s first public appearance since last Thursday. He was joined by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
Romney’s campaign debuted a new Web ad capitalizing on the Fourth, titled “The Best of America.” aligning the country’s past heroes and achievements with so-called “quiet heroes,” and suggesting that a Romney presidency would bring back a sense of pride native to Americans.
The campaign also released a statement from the candidate that “With so many around the world still consigned to tyranny, the Fourth of July is a time to appreciate the blessing of liberty and be thankful that we are Americans.”
The Obama campaign also released a video, "Edward Meagher: A Veteran's Story," detailing Meagher's efforts on veterans’ issues, particularly the transition between the military and civilian life, and contrasting Obama's praise for troops returning home with Meagher's own experiences following Vietnam.
"It makes me very proud to see President Obama fighting for our troops, to honor their service. He's my idea of what a president should be," Meagher said.