The 129th Gridiron dinner was held last night, an annual event where the exclusive 65-member club of Washington journalists (now with freshly-inducted members Bret Baier, Olivier Knox, Ken Strickland and Heidi Wiedenbauer) wear formal suits and hang out with over 600 politicians, Stephen Colbert and Martina Navratilova. It's not televised, though C-SPAN had video of guests walking into a hotel and getting on an escalator. Also former Florida governor Charlie Crist, who took a second to plug his book.
There were remarks from hilarious jokesters John Kerry:
Look at you guys: all dapper in your fancy clothes – white tie and tails. Or, as we call it at our house, workout gear. [Laughter] Or as we call it at our other house: pajamas. [He pronounced it 'paghammas.'] Or as we call it at our other house: swimming costumes. Which, by the way, reminds me of something President Obama asked me to tell you: If you like your rented tuxedo, you can keep it.
Kerry joked about government spying on people including journalists, saying it was 'so nice to put faces to the metadata.'
'Ted and Charlie are tough acts to follow,' Kerry said. 'But no one was harder to follow than Hillary Clinton. Not since J. Edgar Hoover has a presidential appointee left such high heels to fill.'
And Ted Cruz, fresh from his CPAC straw poll loss:
Canadians are so polite, mild-mannered, modest, unassuming, open-minded. Thank God my family fled that oppressive influence before it could change me.
By the way, does anyone know the record for the longest speech ever at this dinner? I looked it up, and in the late 1800s, New York Senator Chauncey DePew enthralled his audience until well past midnight. So LOOSEN UP THOSE WHITE TIES, settle back, and what do you say we make Gridiron history? [Applause]
I've been watching the second season of House of Cards. It's very realistic, very life-like. But I was a little worried when I got a late-night call from Mitch McConnell. He said, 'Uh, Ted, why don't you meet me at the Metro station?' Then there was a tense encounter I had with Dianne Feinstein. I was accused of acting like some pompous, condescending know-it-all. We’re all familiar with the type, and at Harvard Law School there is even a word for it: alumni.
Then Crist, who the Tampa Bay Times said was "funny" but Politico seemed less thrilled with:
I know it's odd to see a guy like me follow Ted. Usually Ted's followers have tri-corner aluminum foil hats.
I was trying to estimate how many people are here tonight but you know how much trouble Floridians have when it comes to counting. All I know is it is more people than watch CNN.
As I join you here in the nation’s capital, I’m struck by the biggest difference between Florida and Washington D.C. We have shark attacks; you have books by Bob Gates. [Groans]
Then again, Politico called this the "line of the night," so maybe Mike Allen's comedy judgement isn't the greatest:
Terry is the Virginia governor who buys his own Rolexes.
There were also skits, including one with Baier and Strickland dressed as the George Washington Bridge (guess who they were mocking?) and a man dressed as Edward Snowden dressed as Uncle Sam. He sang "I'm a Yankee Doodle leaker."