WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With Washington blanketed by snow, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle were spending Sunday at the White House hosting a Super Bowl party.
Obama said the Indianapolis Colts “probably have to be favored” because of star quarterback Peyton Manning but he was partial to the underdog New Orleans Saints, largely due to the devastation that city suffered in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, Republican Congressman Joseph Cao and Democratic Senator Baron Hill were among the lawmakers invited to the White House to watch the telecast of the National Football League championship game in Miami.
Cabinet members on the guest list included Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder. Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan were also invited.
“I do have a soft spot in my heart for New Orleans mainly because of what the city has gone through over these last several years and I just know how much that team means to them,” Obama told CBS television news on Sunday.
The president, a native of Chicago, also suggested there was room for some payback.
“One other factor that I have to confess here is that my Bears went to the Super Bowl several years ago,” he said. “It was the Indianapolis Colts that beat them.”
The Colts are expected to defeat the Saints in Sunday evening’s game, which will be watched by an estimated 100 million people. But the Saints, playing in their first Super Bowl, are the emotional favorite for many fans.
Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by John O'Callaghan