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Obama pleads for lawmakers to heed unity at prayer breakfast


President Barack Obama urged made a plea for lawmakers to resist partisan squabbles on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, one of Washington's rare displays of bipartisan comity.

“I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the prayer breakfast, everything we've been talking about the whole time at the prayer breakfast seems to be forgotten, on the same day of the prayer breakfast,” Obama said, as the audience chuckled with him. “You'd like to think that -- that the shelf life wasn't so short.”

Noting that this was his fifth prayer breakfast since becoming president, Obama said he often goes back to the Oval Office after the event and “start[s] watching the cable news networks” -- an unusual admission for a president who frequently says he ignores the 24/7 TV news cycle -- “and it’s like we didn’t pray.”

Earlier in the event, Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., spoke of the weekly prayer breakfast group in which she and some of her colleagues on both sides of the aisle participate, and how even in the midst of a “bitter, rancorous” political environment, they are able to “set aside our partisan bickering and our differences and come together.”

Obama seemed to speak to that fleeting sense of civility when he said that he and his fellow lawmakers must “retain that humility not just during this hour but for every hour.”

“And let me suggest that those of us with the most power and influence need to be the most humble,” he continued.