Conservative commentator and former candidate for the GOP presidential nomination Pat Buchanan said Barack Obama’s speech to the WHCD was well-done and well-delivered. Speaking on MSNBC, Buchanan particularly praised Obama for poking fun at everyone, while Wanda Sykes, Buchanan said, was “over the top” because of some harsh jokes at Republicans’ and conservatives’ expense. Other MSNBC commentators thought Sykes at times might have been controversial.
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Red carpet pandemonium — packed on both sides of the velvet ropes — photographers and reporters on one side, faced fans and star gazers on the other. Glenn Close,”It’s completely crazy!” Screams and shouts for arriving VIPs: aplusk (Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher), Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Bon Jovi, and Stevie Wonder.
Asked by WHCInside whether she would hold back anything for her monologue tonight, comedian Wanda Sykes said, “I don’t think so.”
During the steady stream of red carpet arrivals at the Washington Hilton, screams and yells from star-gazers behind the velvet ropes often bewildered some of the guests. Sykes even looked taken aback at times, but made her way on into the ballroom.
Early estimates for the turnout at the Pre-WHCD Garden Brunch exceed 500, probably more, as a capacity crowd mingled and mixed in anticipation of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner tonight. The weather — always an issue in D.C. — cooperated, serving up a sunny, if slightly humid afternoon.
Guests included actors Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, Matthew Modine and Dana Delaney; Capt. Richard Phillips of the Alabama Maersk and his wife Andrea; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; former Clinton administration official Donna Shalala; David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell and Ann Curry of NBC News, and many others.
The party ran from Noon until 3:00 p.m., when guests started leaving to prepare for tonight’s big event.
Rapper and actor Ludacris says he’s looking forward to the big correspondents’ dinner tonight, and, noting that he’s been a longtime fan of Wanda Sykes (tonight’s entertainer), adds that she shouldn’t “hold back… there’s too much seriousness in this town.”
Ludarcis attended the 2006 WHCD, when Stephen Colbert was the evening’s entertainment, and said he’s taking his mom tonight,”kind of an early Mother’s Day present.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the White House press corps “serves a function” and that getting rid of it, as some have suggested, “would be wrong.” Napolitano was at the Pre-Dinner Garden Brunch.
Captain Richard Phillips and his wife Andrea met with President Obama in Oval Office today. The president said that “in these hard times (Phillips) inspires us.” They talked basketball, the importance of homework and about the WHCD tonight.
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Jeff Zucker, NBC’s chief executive who’s not known for throwing high-profile bashes, will host a VIP reception before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner tonight on an upper floor of the Washington Hilton, above the mostly ground-floor receptions.