WASHINGTON (AP) — Always a target for humorous barbs, President Barack Obama is tossing out a few of his own during the annual Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner. The event features political leaders, journalists and media executives poking fun at each other.
Obama skipped last year’s dinner but was on tap to speak Saturday night at the Washington hotel hosting the organization’s 128th yearly event. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar represented the Democrats while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal cracked wise for the Republicans.
Klobuchar joked that Obama has aged in office. “His Secret Service name used to be ‘Renegade,’” she said. “Now it’s ’50 Shades of Gray.’”
Jindal took a poke at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, saying that Romney had warned him that “47 percent of you can’t take a joke.” Referring to his own prospects for a presidential run, Jindal asked, “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?”
Political disputes and feuds between politicians and the news media provided plenty of fodder for jokes and Gridiron parodies. There was Obama’s sometimes frosty relationship with the news media, the internal struggles roiling the Republican Party, and journalist Bob Woodward’s dustup with White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. He advised Woodward in an email that the veteran Watergate reporter would regret his reporting about the forced spending cuts called a sequester.
In prepared remarks to welcome the 650 people attending the dinner, Gridiron President Charles J. Lewis of Hearst Newspapers noted that the organization had promised to keep the evening short, “especially because Gene Sperling said that a late night is something we’d all regret.”
With a nod to print reporters’ complaints about dealing with the Obama administration, Lewis said he thought he had overhead Obama remark on the way to the dinner: “So many newspaper reporters. So many interviews to turn down.”
Musical skits are a tradition at the Gridiron dinner, and club officials released its musical program ahead of the event. Using the Beatles song “When I’m 64,” one skit featured a look at Hillary Rodham Clinton’s future with the lyrics:
Got a bit older, Growing my hair, Gained a pound or two
Going home to vegetate in Chappaqua, I just want to be a grandma
It was more than a case of Benghazi flu, Still I’ll be just fine.
Will you select me, will you elect me, When I’m 69
Noting the close relationship between the GOP and the National Rifle Association, Gridiron members sang a tune called “My Gun,” a takeoff on the song “My Girl.” The lyrics included:
If you hate the NRA/Tell my Walther PPK
You’re flirting with disaster/With my Bushmaster
And when pigs fly away/You can take me away
From my gun
In a jab at Obama, the Gridiron players offered a version of “Pinball Wizard” that put to music complaints about some journalists’ lack of access to the president:
Who knew when his magic/First had us all transfixed
That this politician/Hated politics?
Loves his teleprompter, loves a White House ball
But mighty Obama/Don’t schmooze with us at all.
The Gridiron Club and Foundation contributes to college scholarships and journalistic organizations. It limits its active members to 65 journalists based in Washington.
Except for Grover Cleveland, every president since the Gridiron was founded in 1885 has addressed it. The club is the oldest and most exclusive for Washington journalists. Its motto is “singe but never burn.”
No TV cameras were allowed.
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