WASHINGTON — Since arriving in Washington, Sen. John Kennedy has been catnip for Capitol Hill reporters, rarely turning away from a microphone and consistently delivering a brand of oddball, countrified humor that journalists inside the Beltway have a hard time resisting.
Now some of the elites of Washington media will crowd around Kennedy for a night of quips and folksy soundbites as the Republican speaker at the Gridiron Club and Foundation's annual white-tie dinner.
It's the second straight year a Louisiana politico served as a speaker for the event. Outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was the Democratic guest at last year's dinner, roasting President Donald Trump's administration (and himself) at the off-the-record gala.
The annual dinner, put on by an invitation-only club of D.C. journalists, attracts many of the capital's most notable media executives, pundits, lawmakers and administration officials and has been a prominent date for the Washington social scene for more than a century. Presidents are invited and, like Trump last year, usually attend at least some of the dinners during their tenure in office.
Kennedy will be paired with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesotan reportedly mulling a 2020 run for president, at this year's dinner on March 2, according to an email to Gridiron Club members viewed by The Advocate.
The freshman senator has become a favorite of some national reporters for churning out fresh quips on the issues of the day, delivering lines that are at turns folksy, funny, odd or — sometimes — bizarre. That's made Kennedy a frequent flyer in pieces for major newspapers and TV networks.
Some Capitol Hill journalists refer to Kennedy as a "quote machine" while his detractors have taken to calling him "Senator Soundbite."
The club's current president, Wall Street Journal executive Washington editor Jerry Seib, wrote in the email that Louisiana's junior senator has "already has established a reputation for wit and good humor, which makes him a natural for the Gridiron."
Seib thanked Fox News personality Bret Baier, a member of the Gridiron Club, for "helping secure" Kennedy's attendance.