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Sarah Palin: What she said at Gridiron dinner

Sarah Palin spoke to the mainstream media at a Gridiron dinner Saturday.

By Dave Cook / December 6, 2009

Sarah Palin served up 11-1/2 minutes of gentle gibes aimed at Democrats, the media, the McCain campaign, and herself during an appearance at Saturday evening’s Gridiron12 dinner in Washington.

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Ms. Palin’s powerful impact as a cultural figure and potential future presidential candidate was much in evidence at the black tie event. The club’s winter dinner is usually a low key, off-the-record affair. This year’s dinner, featuring Palin and liberal Rep. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts as speakers, drew 190 journalists and spouses, an increase of 17.3 percent from the number who attended last year. The Gridiron Club’s members are veteran reporters and bureau chiefs.

Twitter and otter skin

In a nod to the intense media interest in Palin, the Gridiron Club’s board dropped a 100 year old rule – often violated – that comments made at the dinner were off the record and could not be reported. Instead, twittering was allowed, although not during speeches or songs. Palin tweets herself and noted in her dinner remarks that she had “the Twitter thing going.”

Palin was surrounded by reporters at the pre-dinner reception held on an evening when Washington was in the midst of an early snow storm. The former Alaska governor was dressed in a stylish black dress and carried what she told Chicago Sun Times correspondent Lynn Sweet was a purse made from an otter.

The appearance was a family affair. Todd Palin sat at the head table, and during her talk Palin called out to her parents who stood at the back of the ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel and waved to the crowd. Palin quipped that her mom and dad “crashed the party.”

On the political front, Palin said that “if the election had turned out differently, I could be the one overseeing the signing of bailout checks and Vice President Biden could be on the road selling his book “Going Rogaine.” Biden is known for many things but not a full head of hair.

While Palin was not specific about her political plans, she noted that on Sunday she would be at a book store in Iowa, which is an influential proving ground for presidential candidates. "Come early, long lines are expected," she said.

Tweaking the media

Much of Palin’s gentle political humor was aimed at the media.

“Sometimes you’ve got to trust your instincts, and when you don’t you end up in a place like this," she said. Palin also tweaked journalists for buying books and turning immediately to the index to see if they are mentioned. Her book does not have an index but she made up index entries during her speech including: “A. Alaska, media not understanding it, page 1 to 432.”

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