McCain roasts lobbyist at awards dinner

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Black would return fire in his speech accepting the award.

“I do appreciate the remarks and John, I want to particularly thank you for dozens of earmarks you have obtained for my clients over the years,” Black joked. “Don’t believe it when people say that John is hard to lobby. The last several years, he has only thrown two of my clients out of his office.”

During the 2008 race, Black’s K Street status had him under frequent attack from then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign. McCain stuck by Black and spoke highly of him at the dinner, saying “I have never known Charlie Black but to be the most honest, straightforward and outstanding individual in politics and life I have had the honor of being associated with.”

The dinner would descend into a bipartisan lovefest when Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), stood up to introduce Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the winner of the Bryce Harlow Award this year.

“We soon became a team that even as NRSC chair, I’m here to praise him,” Moran said, noting their work together on legislation to help keep highly-educated and entrepreneurial immigrants in the United States. “When he says something, it is the truth.”

Warner, who is up for reelection in 2014, said he and Moran have become “really good friends.” Warner joked at his Senate colleague that “I would have thought as a great national Republican leader, you would have known better to speak good things about a Democrat with a cellphone around.”

Proceeds from the Bryce Harlow awards dinner help fund the group’s fellowships at lobby shops and on Capitol Hill as well as its educational programs.