Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, was among the select group of federal lawmakers who lunched with the new president today inside the nation’s capitol.
“I was very pleased to be asked by the House Republican Leader John Boehner for Kathy and I to join at the luncheon today and it was an incredible experience with the new president, the new vice president, their spouses, their families, all the former presidents, vice presidents, leadership in congress,” Latham says. “It was really an incredible experience.”
Latham did not see the medical emergency that sent Senator Edward Kennedy to a hospital. Latham was seated in an historic area of Statuary Hall, where the luncheon was held.
“You can’t help but just look at the history, being in the Statuary Hall where congress once sat. Where our table was was the place where Abraham Lincoln sat when he served in congress,” Latham says. “…The history of this country is so great…the peaceful transition of power — and exciting times for the country.”
Latham and Obama spoke and shook hands. “We were very pleased that the new president came to each table and I had a chance to visit with him; congratulate him; wish him the very, very best and offer to work (with him) in any way possible,” Latham says.
The menu for today’s luncheon was billed as some of the favorites of Abraham Lincoln. It included apple cinnamon sponge cake, plus duck and goose in the main course. “I ate most everything. I’m not a big goose person…but everything was very, very good and certainly dessert was tremendous,” Latham says. “It was delicious.”
Latham spoke by phone with Radio Iowa from the capitol building. He was looking out one of the windows, watching President Obama, the first lady, the vice president and his wife get into the armored vehicle which is carrying them down Pennsylvania Avenue.
“A pretty amazing site,” Latham said as he watched Obama and the other three walk down the east steps of the capitol. “It’s a time of celebration — and real challenges for our country.”
When Obama was sworn in on the west steps of the capitol, Latham was sitting about a dozen rows up, to Obama’s left. “To look down the Mall and all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial and just see solid people — absolutely incredible. I’ve never seen that kind of a crowd here. This is my fourth inauguration and it was something that was just an incredible spectacle,” Latham says, “a tremendous celebration of our country.”