Obama began his remarks by telling the governors to make themselves at home during their time that evening at the White House.
“I'm sure some of you are thinking that's been the plan all along,” he said to laughs.
He then read a quote about a governor who swore he would be contented to remain in that office.
“Of course, that was Teddy Roosevelt,” Obama quipped. “I guess plans change.”
On a more serious note, Obama told the crowd he looked forward to working with many of the governors gathered in the State Room Dining Room on his “year of action” agenda on everything from “education to health care to climate change” and said he has already enjoyed working with many of them.
He specifically gave a shout out to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, recalling when the two visited a hospital together after the Boston Marathon attack last year and his time with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, when the two surveyed the devastating damage in the state from last Spring's tornadoes. He said he also enjoyed visiting Naval Academy graduates with Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
“If there's one thing in common from moments like these it's the incredible resilience and goodness and strength of the American people that we're so privileged to serve,” he said.
Fallin, who chairs the NGA, thanked Obama for hosting the dinner and said the crowd of governors represents legislators who have “seen the light” like him and have gone on to be chief executives.
“We believe as governors we have to act upon our nation's problems, but it's important for us to work together on behalf of this great nation,” she said, acknowledging that at least some governors in the crowd are Republicans who have clashed with Obama.