It was a week late, but that didn’t seem to matter to the more than 65 people who showed up at the Ritz Carlton residences in Georgetown Saturday night to help former Vice President Walter Mondale celebrate his 80th birthday.
The invitation-only guest list included a bevy of “formers”: Cabinet officials, members of Congress, former aides to Mondale and President Carter. Among them were former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin, former Assistant Secretary of State Dick Holbrooke, former Senate colleagues Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) and John Culver (D-Iowa) and former White House Domestic Policy Adviser Stu Eizenstat.
The party was held in the luxurious penthouse apartment of former Mondale aides Jim Johnson and Maxine Isaacs, who hosted the party, along with another former Mondale aide, lawyer-lobbyist Mike Berman. Another ex-Mondale aide, Dick Moe, now president of the National Historic Preservation Trust, toasted the ex-veep and his wife Joan, who recently moved out of their Minneapolis home into a condo apartment themselves.
Cuisine included short ribs and risotto and drink involved champagne toasts to accompany a birthday cake. Everyone went home with red, white or blue baseball hats emblazoned with “WFM 80” on them, and guests found on their seats copies of Joan Mondale’s recipe for pumpkin bread, which she handed out when her husband was in the Senate.
Finlay Lewis, a Washington correspondent for Copley newspapers and a Mondale biographer, and his wife Willee also celebrated a special birthday. Their son Saul’s wife delivered triplet baby girls a day earlier.
In thanking his hosts and the guests who marked his Jan. 5 birthday, Mondale refrained from using one of his trademark lines while attending fundraisers in the homes of wealthy Democratic supporters, which was, “Isn’t it great what Democrats have done for public housing?”
The Minnesota Democrat, whose presidential bid was buried in the 1984 Reagan landslide, later served as ambassador to Japan in the Clinton administration and ran unsuccessfully as a last-minute stand-in for the Senate seat of Democrat Paul Wellstone after Wellstone was killed in a plane crash in 2002. He’s now a member of a Minneapolis law firm and oversees the public policy center that bears his name at the University of Minnesota.