President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday personally welcomed visitors to the White House as public tours resumed after a seven-month break.
Tuesday was the first day guests could enter the White House after tours were canceled in March, a move that was blamed by the administration on the sequestration budget cuts.
Mr. Obama and the first lady spent a few moments chatting with tourists as they began their tours, and the president could be heard talking football, thanking federal employees and wishing a 4-year-old girl a belated happy birthday.
The girl’s birthday was Oct. 2, and Mr. Obama said he would’ve attended her birthday party but had other obligations.
“We were trying to get the government reopened. Otherwise I would have come,” he joked, before handing the girl a White House coin as a late birthday present.
The president also could be heard talking about Monday night’s football game between the Green Bay Packers and Mr. Obama’s hometown team, the Chicago Bears.
Mr. Obama and his wife spent much of their time interacting with children, and the president complimented an 8-year-old boy on his wardrobe choice.
“Can I just say, people, the pocket square … that’s a sharp look right there,” he said of the boy, wearing a sport coat and matching pocket square.
The couple also invited children to pet both of the first family’s dogs, Bo and Sunny.
Nearly 3 million visitors have come to White House since Mr. Obama came to power, according to the first lady’s office.
Mr. Obama and the first lady also routinely host events geared toward children, including an annual Easter Egg Roll and, just last month, they welcomed trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
At about 11:25 a.m., Mr. Obama left to attend a meeting on immigration reform. Mrs. Obama stayed behind and continued to greet guests.