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 ClintonSanders wanted Elizabeth Warren as Clinton's VP Poll: Trump up in battleground states after convention Bill's role: To be determined 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 CruzWalker jabs at Kasich for snubbing GOP convention Trump: Cruz is 'lucky' that I walked in on his speech Kasich leaves door open to Trump endorsement 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 RubioBudowsky: Why Warren masters Trump Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ Five ways Trump’s convention was a success MORE’s speech,” prodding the GOP presidential candidate for criticism that he’s too scripted.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanClinton maps out first 100 days Why a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform Trump is right about one thing 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 BoxerDem suggests race factored into Obama Senate endorsement Obama, Biden back Kamala Harris in Calif. Senate race Tim Scott says he was targeted by Capitol Police 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 TrumpPoll: Trump up in battleground states after convention Donald Trump Jr. not ruling out run for public office Bill's role: To be determined 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 LarsenBusiness groups, lawmakers back trade case against China Dems urge treaty ratification after South China Sea ruling House panel kills LGBT effort on defense bill 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 CapitoCompany announces closure of Ohio coal plants Why regulations were a convenient target at the GOP convention GOP works to unify around Trump MORE (R-W.Va.).