Updated with text of Debbie Wasserman Schultz speech
WASHINGTON--Texas Gov. Rick Perry was a big hit at the Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner Saturday, mocking his failed GOP presidential bid while aiming zingers at Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In a hilarious routine, Perry reminded the audience, "with all my gaffes, people forgot I once led the Republican primary. It was the three most exhilarating hours of my life. Awesome."
Perry spoke for the Republicans at the club's 127th annual dinner; Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee for the Democrats and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stood in for President Barack Obama. (Click below for text of Wasserman Schultz speech)
On having to quit his White House bid, Perry said, "Here is the hardest part for me. It was the weakest Republican field in history, and they kicked my butt."
And on Romney, now the GOP front-runner, Perry laid it on: "I like Mitt Romney as much as one really good-looking man can like a really good-looking man and not break Texas law."
Perry noted that Obama skipped the Gridiron Dinner because he was in Korea--visiting on the trip the demilitarized zone known as the DMZ. Making fun of his penchant for gaffes and lampooning birthers, Perry wondered by Obama had to go to the DMZ.
"Would somebody tell me why do you have to go all the way to Korea to get a driver's license? It must be something to do with that birth certificate thing."
Perry recalled how his presidential campaign was short-circuited by poor debate performances and how he did not catch a break.
"I keep waiting for Mitt to say, 'Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?'"
"My problem is saying stuff that isn't right. Mitt's problem is saying stuff that is."
"My gaffes start countering each other, they are canceling each other out. Some have said that my debating style is similar to that other Texas Cicero," former President Bush.
"The only difference between George and me is I say 'oops.'"
He said Bush is very "hands on" in planning his presidential library in Texas. "My favorite part [of his presidential library] is the petting zoo."
Perry said he enjoyed needling Santorum during the campaign.
"Rick tell me again, which one of the Village People are you? You the policeman or the Indian."
"I do wish I was still in the race," he said, recalling that he is a governor from a big state, a military pilot with a degree in animal husbandry from Texas A&M.
"Animal husbandry. That sounds what Rick Santorum thinks gay marriage leads to."
Perry said after his campaign experience his motto is, "If you can't make fun of yourself, well, there's always Herman Cain."
below, from Wasserman Schultz...
Remarks for Debbie Wasserman Schultz
March 24, 2012
Thank you George [Condon].
It's so wonderful to be here tonight. Frankly, when you're a woman member of the House, it's a pleasure to be invited to participate in anything.
Seriously, with all of this no girls allowed stuff, these guys aren't the young guns, they're the little rascals.
It's an honor to be here with Leon Panetta, a man with four decades of Washington experience. Or, as Newt Gingrich would call him, an outsider.
Secretary Panetta, let me just say that I really enjoyed reading your speech on Wikileaks. I can't wait to hear it in person.
Governor Perry - can I call you Rick? - it was a childhood dream of mine to be here with you. I spent a lot of time dressing up you and Barbie for a night like this.
One of the most memorable moments of the primary was when Rick refused to take Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet. Man, when you say you're against redistributing wealth, you really mean it.
And by the way, Governor, what did Newt Gingrich do to get your endorsement?
He must have promised you the moon. Or, at least, the moon colony.
Of course, Mitt Romney doesn't love the idea of building on the moon. But that's because he already has a house there.
(...talk about aliens mowing your lawn!)
Governor Perry and I couldn't be more different, but being here got me thinking of the many ways in which the two states we represent - Texas and Florida -- are similar.
In Texas, everything is bigger. In Florida, the prostates are.
In Texas, Kinky Friedman is a beloved and unique figure. In Florida, ever since Viagra, we have Kinky Friedmans all over the place.
In Texas, signaling that you're turning right is how you win a general election. In Florida, signaling that you're turning right doesn't mean that you're actually going to change lanes anytime soon.
In Texas, you dig for Black Gold, Texas Tea. In Florida, we dig the Golden Girls and iced tea.
In Texas, you think LBJ stands for Lyndon Baines Johnson. In Florida, we know it stands for LeBron James.
The big important difference: W.E.B. DuBois [dew-BOYS] wrote a short story called "Jesus Christ in Texas." But we know Jesus actually grew up in Florida, and we call him Tim Tebow.
[do Tim Tebow gesture]
I've been giving Rick Perry a hard time, but the truth is, I have my own Rick to worry about - Governor Rick Scott.
Governor Scott, I speak for seventy-four percent of Floridians when I say that it's good to see you here. And by here, I mean: not in Florida.
[Hey, I don't conduct the polls.]
Governor Scott rejected federal funding for a high-speed rail in Florida. His reasoning was that Disney World already has a perfectly good monorail.
I joke, but I love my state, and I love my job. Every day is a new adventure.
For example, here's some of my schedule from yesterday.
6:00 AM. Wake up. Put my naturally straight hair in curlers to achieve that "Jewish" look I'm constantly striving for.
By the way, I don't understand this obsession with my hair. The New York Times devoted a whole column to my curls. I've even been called "she of the angry perm."
And to that, I would say two things. First of all, you don't want to see my hair when it's angry.
Secondly, I think my hair helps me identify with the millions of American women out there who are struggling to make split ends meet.
At 7:00 AM, go wake up the children. And by children, I mean Steve Israel and Chuck Schumer.
10:00 AM - see Darrell Issa in the hallway, shake hands.
10:02 - Wash hands vigorously.
10:37 - Still washing hands
· 12:00 noon -- Pass by the Republican Caucus' lunchroom. As usual, they're eating their young.
3:00 PM - do a round of cable interviews, because as DNC Chair, it's part of my job to be the voice of the Party.
In that role, I've been accused of being a little... strong . Exaggerating claims a little bit. But nothing could be further from the truth. Let me give you some examples.
· I was quoted as calling last year's GOP budget and Medicare plan, quote, "literally a death trap for seniors."
Just to be clear, I know the difference between literal and figurative. Which is why I haven't used the word literally, in, literally, a million years.
But back to the death trap, when you look at the Ryan Medicare plan, page 87, right here (hold up plan), let me read to you: "upon reaching the age of 65, American citizens by birth or naturalization are offered the choice of being thrown, bodily, into either a pit of tigers, or a pool of sharks." Not my words, Paul Ryan's. And if that's not literally a death trap, I don't know what is.
· I also got a hard time when I said that Republicans would allow insurance companies to, again, I quote, "throw young people to the wolves."
This was actually a tempered version of what I wanted to say. Initially, I wanted to say that the Republicans want to take America's young people, put them in gym shorts, make them crawl across a field of broken glass, and then spray their legs with lemon juice. But I didn't say that, did I? Because, hey, I know how to tone it down.
8:00 PM - after a long day, take an aspirin for my headache. Luckily, thanks to Foster Friess's advice, I happen to have one where I always keep it..... right between my knees.
But if my days are hard, they're nothing compared to Speaker Boehner's.
Trust me, I know what it's like to have Eric Cantor breathing down your neck. That's why I stopped using JDate.
[Don't worry, I cleared that line with my husband.]
And things are only going to get more hectic as we get closer to the election.
It looks like Mitt Romney finally has this thing wrapped up. And you know what you call a Republican primary where Mitt stands alone? A two-man race.
Whatever happens, I think there should be a Santorum-Romney ticket. Their motto could be: "Man on dog, no. Dog on roof, yes."
Republicans are constantly giving Democrats a hard time for ignoring the "wisdom of the private sector." Sheldon Adelson has given Newt Gingrich $11 million dollars. Private sector's judgment... not always flawless, okay?
I have to confess, I've been totally mystified by this birth control debate. That's probably because I'm Jewish. In our religion, we don't consider a fetus to be viable until after it's graduated from medical school.
And speaking of my religion, I know that a lot of Jews were upset when we found out that Mormons were actually Baptizing deceased Jews.
I'm not really worried about this, because it wouldn't work. I mean, if you could convert a stiff, Republicans wouldn't have such a problem with Mitt Romney.
I want to close with a sentiment that some of you heard me share last year.
I had a couple of years that have put all of the petty bickering and partisanship in perspective.
As some of you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and went through seven surgeries including a double mastectomy.
Rick, since you only speak Republican, that means I had them repealed and replaced.
The entire experience reminded me that life is short, and we need to all focus on what matters - the people we love, the country we love, the legacy we leave.
If we focus on those things, everything else seems to fall into place. And I hope that if all of us in public life can find more commonality - and see each other's humanity - then we really can make progress.
By the way, my health battle wasn't all bad. (Pause.) I got these. (Looking down.)
I like to call them my "silver linings."
Some people who know my story ask: "Debbie, are they fake?"
I say, hell yes they're fake. The real ones tried to kill me.
Although the fake ones feel very real.
At least that's what the TSA agents tell me.
Thank you all.
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