WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama blamed the budget battle if his jokes fell flat at Saturday night's Gridiron dinner: "My joke writers have been placed on furlough."
Always a target for digs, the president tossed out a few of his own during the Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, an annual event where political leaders, journalists and media executives poke fun at each other.
The so-called sequester that struck the federal budget this month drew another observation from Obama: "Of course, there's one thing in Washington that didn't get cut — the length of this dinner. Yet more proof that the sequester makes no sense."
The ambitions of 70-year-old Vice President Joe Biden? "Just the other day, I had to take Joe aside and say, 'Joe, you are way too young to be the pope. You can't do it. You got to mature a little bit.'"
During a pause in his remarks, Obama took a long, slow sip of water and then said, "That, Marco Rubio, is how you take a sip of water." Rubio took a much-discussed water break while delivering the televised GOP response to the State of the Union address last month.
Obama also mocked the criticism from some quarters that he takes time off from his job. "We face major challenges. March in particular is going to be full of tough decisions. But I want to assure you, I have my top advisers working around the clock. After all, my March Madness bracket isn't going to fill itself out. And don't worry — there is an entire team in the Situation Room as we speak, planning my next golf outing, right now at this moment."
The dinner was the organization's 128th since its founding in 1885. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar represented the Democrats, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal cracked wise for the Republicans.
Klobuchar joked that Obama had aged in office. "His Secret Service name used to be 'Renegade,'" she said. "Now it's '50 Shades of Gray.'"
Jindal jabbed at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, telling the audience that Romney had warned him that "47 percent of you can't take a joke." Referring to his own prospects for a presidential run, Jindal asked, "What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?"