By Judy Kurtz
Lawmakers came out swinging (and singing) at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd annual Congressional Dinner on Thursday night — but they reserved some of their edgiest one-liners for the crop of 2016 presidential candidates.
Calling Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWeld wins Libertarian nomination for VP Sanders supporter challenges Wyo. delegate allocation Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals MORE the “most dishonest person in America,” Graham wondered aloud how the Democratic front-runner was “about to be the next president.”
“How could that be?” Graham asked the packed audience of hundreds of journalists, members of Congress and D.C. movers and shakers at Washington’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. “My party has gone batshit crazy,” the senator answered to wild laughter.
Graham continued, aiming many of his quips toward his former fellow Oval Office contenders.
“A good Republican would defend Ted CruzTed CruzDems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals Meet the billionaire donor behind Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker Party chairs see reversal of fortune MORE,” said Graham, of the Texas senator, before quickly adding, “that ain’t happening.”
“If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you,” Graham said, as the audience erupted in both laughter and some “oohs.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also targeted Cruz during her turn at the mic, saying the Canada-born White House hopeful feels “right at home” at a “Justin Bieber concert, a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game, a maple syrup pitcher.”
She compared the Iowa caucuses winner to the Keystone XL pipeline: Both, she said, start in Alberta, end up in Texas and risk doing irreparable harm to the environment.
“There’s a special place in hell for women who do not laugh at my jokes tonight,” said Pelosi — referencing a controversial line former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used at a Hillary Clinton rally.
Pelosi then began to repeat the same line again, before shuffling her notes, and saying, “Oh, I’m sorry, this is Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio apologized to Trump for 'small hands' crack Sunday shows preview: Bernie soldiers on Fla. Senate candidate bashes Rubio MORE’s speech,” prodding the GOP presidential candidate for criticism that he’s too scripted.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanSessions: Ryan 'needs to' endorse Trump soon Dole: Gingrich should be Trump's running mate In House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable MORE (R-Wis.) got laughs while recalling two cases of mistaken identity.
After a woman approached him at a Milwaukee airport and asked for a photo, Ryan said she exclaimed, “Oh, it’s so nice to finally meet you, Gov. [Scott] Walker.”
In another instance at the same airport, Ryan says he encountered two flight attendants whispering to one another before telling him, “You’re somebody famous. Are you Anthony Weiner?”
Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerLatinos key in Democratic battle for California delegates Dem senators back Interior coal leasing review Trump and Sanders whip up debate buzz MORE (D-Calif.) took some shots at both sides of the aisle, jesting that, at 75, she would soon be chairing Hillary Clinton’s “millennial outreach effort.”
Her next zinger had Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump thought biker rally crowd would resemble ‘I Have a Dream’ speech Weld wins Libertarian nomination for VP Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals MORE’s name on it, with Boxer saying, “Trump’s been married so many times, he calls his current wife, ‘the incumbent.’” The retiring senator ended her set with a PG-rated song about appeasing television bookers and broadcasters, belting out a “West Side Story”-inspired tune called, “I Want to be on Your TV Show.”
Among the many lawmakers eyed at the annual festivities, which included a lively after-party sponsored by The Hill: Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Rick LarsenRick LarsenHouse panel kills LGBT effort on defense bill We must protect open and fair aviation competition Lawmakers seek to ground Norwegian Air’s flight bid MORE (D-Wash.) Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and David Brat (R-Va.) and Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoInvest in infrastructure to transform America Senate Republicans ask Trump to soften his tone Skittish GOP to Trump: Drop the insults MORE (R-W.Va.).