Arriving at the Republic of Korea State Dinner: The Parnes/Mason pool report

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Amie Parnes and Julie Mason from POLITICO filed the pool report on the arrivals for the Republic of Korea State Dinner on Thursday night…

Guests arrived for the state dinner just as a thunderstorm broke over downtown Washington. Women with drenched hemlines and men in saturated tuxedos were the evening standard.

First to arrive was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in slacks and a raw silk embroidered jacket.

White House deputy senior advisor Stephanie Cutter wore a midnight blue floor length dress with vertical sequin ribbons.

Moments later, Sam Tubman, deputy White House social secretary, in a black floor-length gown, dashed by the press pen without a glance.

Sheryl Kara Sandberg, Facebook (Chief Operating Officer), told the press pool, “Nice to see you,” and kept walking.

JuJu Chang — “The wisdom of the crowd won,” the ABC News reporter told the press pool. Chang conducted an online poll to select her dress for the event. The winner was a one-should floor-length in deep purple. “So much for the hair salon,” Chang said, of the rain.

U.N. Secretary General Ban-ki Moon said of the evening, “It’s a great opportunity.” For what, he did not say.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, dry and resplendent, said he missed the rain. Also dodging the deluge: Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana: “We were lucky, we missed it,” he said.

Dr. Peter Rhee, a surgeon at the University of Arizona University Medical Center, who operated on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, appeared soaked, saying there is no rain in Arizona.

Asked what he was looking forward to this evening, Rhee said “Relaxing, enjoying the moment. Great to be here tonight.”

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said, when asked if everybody was friends tonight at the White House, “Ah, sure. We put those types of differences away.”

CNN anchor Candy Crowley, with longtime CNN producer Michael Rosselli, waved to the press on her way into the mansion.

Terribly chic in her tux and heels with a dramatic, pompadour-esque updo was Janelle Monae, who also was a singer performing later in the evening.

James Biden, bearing a strong resemblance to his brother the vice president, smiled and nodded at reporters as he passed.

Tina Tchen, first lady’s chief of staff, was all smiles and no conversation as she made her way toward the party.

Arriving stag, Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, was on the later end of arrivals and did not stop to discuss.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King, attired in a black pantsuit with black Nike sneakers — to which she gave two thumbs up — said she had been reading up on South Korea ahead of the dinner. King said she supports anything that helps the jobs situation and American optimism.

“I hope to listen a lot, and just learn, and meet some new acquaintances,” she said.

Finally, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley was last to arrive. It was Pelley’s second state dinner. His first was in 1998, “so it’s been awhile, as I recall,” he said.

Also, a wardrobe note: The first lady’s purple gown was by Doo-Ri Chung, a designer born in South Korea, and raised in New Jersey.

Amie Parnes

Julie Mason


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