Bill Clinton not coming to Manmohan Singh’s party

November 19th, 2009 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 19 (IANS) An invitation to President Barack Obama’s state dinner in honour of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may be the hottest ticket in town, but former president Bill Clinton is not coming to the party.

Nor would two top lawmakers, one from Obama’s own Democratic Party and the other from the rival Republican Party, according to Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

A Clinton spokesman cited by Politico said he will not be attending the state dinner honouring India on Tuesday, but gave no reason.

Some guests like Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid too have regretted saying they will be at home for Thanksgiving break. Lockheed Martin Corp. CEO Bob Stevens received an invitation, but decided to decline, the Politico said.

Making much of Boehner’s regret, Politico said the Republican who complained earlier this month that Obama’s White House hasn’t invited Republicans over to talk healthcare since April, attended a state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II in 2007, when fellow Republican George W. Bush was the president.

The White House has been keeping a tight seal on the state dinner guest list. But according to Politico among the members of the White House cabinet that will attend are: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who just spent several days in India promoting clean energy; and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has been invited, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Invites don’t go to only Democrats. Louisiana Governor and Indian-American Bobby Jindal, who gave the Republican response to President Obama’s address to Congress earlier this year, is on the list - and plans to attend, the newspaper said.

Equally of interest: who didn’t make the cut? Admiral Michael Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was not invited, even though the White House has traditionally invited the joint chiefs, Politico said.

Two key California Democrats weren’t invited: Senator Dianne Feinstein, one of Obama’s biggest superdelegates during his campaign, and Senator Barbara Boxer, who has been key in shepherding Obama’s climate initiatives in the Senate.

Democrat senator Ben Nelson, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Republican Senator Susan Collins and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor were also not invited, the paper said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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