WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar mocked herself in her Gridiron Club and Foundation speech on Saturday, riffing off of stories about her scolding staffers and eating a salad with a comb after an aide forgot to bring her a fork.
“How did everyone like the salad?” Klobuchar said at the top of her routine. “I thought it was OK, but it needed just a bit of scalp oil and a pinch of dandruff.”
The Minnesota Democrat didn’t lack for self-deprecating material, with the New York Times comb story breaking a few days before the 134th anniversary dinner of the club, coming after other reports, based on anonymous former aides, of her being a terrible boss.
Klobuchar announced her presidential bid on Feb. 10 and her political challenge is not to let bad-boss stories define her in the opening weeks of her presidential campaign.
Some Chicagoans will get their first look at Klobuchar as a presidential contender on March 18 when she makes her first 2020 fundraising swing through the city. Klobuchar knows Chicago; she is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School.
The Gridiron dinner is a white-tie and gown affair thrown by the organization of D.C. journalists. I’m a member and was a very bit player in the musical parody skits lampooning, on a bipartisan basis, White House, congressional and political figures.
The show is on the record. Keeping with club tradition, the skits and speeches are not televised, so you will have to take my word for it that I had some decent dance moves. Or you could ask Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., who were among the Cabinet members, White House officials, members of Congress, ambassadors and other officials at the dinner.
The Gridiron Club has invited every president to the dinner since 1885. Every president but Grover Cleveland has come to at least one dinner. President Donald Trump spoke last year and Vice President Mike Pence represented the administration in 2017.
Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana spoke for the Republicans and Ivanka Trump substituted for her father.
Ivanka, a senior White House adviser, said at the top of her speech the president told her shortly before the dinner he wasn’t going to attend. Earlier on Saturday, Trump delivered a speech lasting two hours and two minutes at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Which provides the set up for this bawdy zinger from Klobuchar.
“Now I know I heard today that the president spoke for two hours. So my plan here is to keep this short,” Klobuchar said.
“My speech will be shorter than a Robert Kraft visit to the Orchid Day spa,” she said to groans. After a pause she added, “Guys, a woman can tell a dirty joke.”
The reference is to the New England Patriots owner being busted for allegedly soliciting prostitution at a Florida massage parlor linked to sex-trafficking.
More Klobuchar lines
•She noted that there were some news outlets quoting Republican senators saying she is “reasonable, likable and nice … And then the New York Times gave the rebuttal.”
•”And there is a big battle over where the Democratic convention will be held. It’s between Houston, Miami and Milwaukee. The GOP also has the dilemma. They’re trying to decide between Moscow and Minsk.”
•If the election ends up before the Supreme Court, “I’m gonna count Brett Kavanaugh as a no,” a reference to sparring during his confirmation hearing.
•After Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., last year became the first sitting senator to give birth, she asked Klobuchar, on the Rules Committee, to help make a change to allow her to bring Maile Pearl Bowlsbey on the floor. Klobuchar said some male senators wanted to know if Duckworth was going to nurse on the floor.
A few days later, she quipped, she was at a classified briefing with four male senators and, “for my own amusement, I tapped one of them on the back and said in a very loud whisper, ‘I hear you guys have questions about breastfeeding.”
“Certainly comedy’s not my thing,” Ivanka said, noting her image as being uptight and scripted.
Her joke played off of accusations by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that her husband, Jared Kushner, also a senior White House adviser, bounced him from the Trump transition team.
“To be honest, I was not my father’s first choice to speak tonight. I don’t know who was but reports are already beginning to surface that Chris Christie is saying that he was the president’s first choice, but that Jared blocked it.”
Trump sent his regrets, she said, adding, “The opportunity to poke fun at the media is not something that he passes up lightly.”