WASHINGTON, March 9 President Barack Obama poked
fun at himself, Bob Woodward and Washington reporters on
Saturday at a dinner that brought together the country's press
and political elites.
Attending the Gridiron Club dinner, Obama made light of a
recent back and forth between his administration and Woodward,
the veteran Washington Post journalist whose reporting on the
Watergate scandal helped bring down Richard Nixon's presidency.
"Can anybody tell me when an administration has ever
regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward?" Obama joked.
"What's the worst that could happen?"
Woodward and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling had
a public tussle that played itself out in a leaked email, in
which Sperling told the veteran journalist he would regret
taking a position on one of Obama's policies. Woodward suggested
the move was an example of White House intimidation.
"Who knew Gene could be so intimidating," Obama joked about
Sperling. "Or let me phrase it differently: who knew anybody
named Gene could be so intimidating?"
The Gridiron Club and Foundation, founded in 1885, is the
oldest and one of the most elite organizations of journalists
in Washington. Membership is by invitation only.
Obama also ribbed Florida Senator Marco Rubio for lunging
for a water bottle during his televised Republican rebuttal to
Obama's State of the Union Address earlier this year.
Obama stopped his remarks briefly, deliberately picked up a
water glass, sipped, then put it back down. "That, Marco Rubio,
is how you take a sip of water," he said to laughter.
Rubio is a potential Republican presidential candidate in
A potential rival of Rubio's, Louisiana Governor Bobby
Jindal, gave the Republican speech at the dinner, dishing out
barbs about himself and other presidential hopefuls.
"I am too skinny to run," he said, referring to his chances
of seeking the Republican nomination in a few years. "At least
that's what my friend Chris Christie keeps telling me."
Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, has had
admitted struggling with his weight.
Jindal said he had no plans to run for president.
"I've made that clear over and over again in Iowa, in New
Hampshire and South Carolina," he said, listing states with
early nominating contests that presidential contenders woo with
Obama, who is pressing lawmakers to end the "sequester"
budget cuts that recently went into effect, joked that the often
lengthy Gridiron event had not suffered from Washington's axe.
"There is one thing in Washington that didn't get cut: the
length of this dinner," he said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Todd