Lawmakers toast Jake Tapper's new CNN show

Thune, who was smiling broadly despite sporting a medical boot on his right foot as he recovers from plantar fasciitis, hobbled into the festivities and exclaimed, “Big day, huh?”

Tapper, who penned a book last year about the war in Afghanistan, admitted he was “nervous” for the debut but thinks a certain memento may have given him a boost: “I wore cufflinks that were given to me by one of the soldiers in the book. They were West Point cufflinks. That was my good luck charm.”

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While his first show featured interviews with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), NBA star LeBron James, and comedian Stephen Colbert, Tapper, 44, is setting his sights high for future dream guests, saying with a grin, “Obviously we’d love the Pope, we’d love the president, the vice president.”

Tapper added slyly, “We’ve got some more surprises up our sleeve.”

Also spotted at “The Lead” launch party: CNN President Jeff Zucker, former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, CNN’s Dana Bash, House GOP aide Doug Heye, and Democratic strategists Hilary Rosen and Donna Brazile.

Photo: (from left) CNN's Jeff Zucker, Jake Tapper, and Ken Jautz / Credit: E.M. Pio Roda/CNN