Donald Trump insists he has “never had a better time doing something” as president the day after calling a truce in his battle with the media at the Gridiron Dinner.
The US president dished out pointed one-liners and endured some barbs from political rivals and the press on Saturday evening. The gala was “was great fun,” he tweeted on Sunday. “I am accomplishing a lot in Washington and have never had a better time doing something, and especially since this is for the American People!”
During his remarks on Saturday night, the president largely put aside his criticism of the media. “Nobody does self-deprecating humour better than I do,” said Mr Trump, who skipped last year’s bash. He also said: “I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That’s why I accepted.”
The annual dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation, now in its 133rd year, traces its history to 1885, when President Grover Cleveland refused to attend. Every president since has come to at least one Gridiron.
“Rest assured, Mr President, this crowd is way bigger than Cleveland’s,” Club President David Lightman, congressional editor for McClatchy News, told the white-tie audience. The organisation said the event attracted about 660 journalists, media executives, politicians, administration officials and military officers.
Members of the Washington press corps sharpened their wits for musical and rhetorical takedowns of the president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama. Mr Trump delivered several one-liners during his 30-minute plus speech:
-on his son-in-law: “We were late tonight because Jared (Kushner) could not get through security.”
-on Vice President Mike Pence: “He is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet … he is straight. Man.” Mr Trump also said, “I really am proud to call him the apprentice.”
-on Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. What are you going to do?”
-on The New York Times: “I’m a New York icon. You’re a New York icon. And the only difference is I still own my buildings.”
-on former chief strategist Steven Bannon: “That guy leaked more than the Titanic.”
-on the first lady: Mr Trump said he does not understand why everyone says #freemelania. He said she’s actually having a great time.
Toward the end of his comments, Mr Trump could not resist some of his favourite themes, revisiting his election night victory and chiding reporters to be fair. He closed by saying: “I just want to say this, this is one of the best times I’ve had with the media, this might be the most fun I’ve had since watching your faces on election night.”