Biden tells Gridiron Club dinner one presidential candidate is ‘too old and mentally unfit’ and ‘the other is me’ as he torches Trump and rips ‘the little guy’ DeSantis during blistering roast: ‘I wish these were jokes’

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Written By Maya Cantina
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  • Biden spoke for about 10 minutes at the white-tie Washington tradition
  • He and VP Harris dined with the likes of Jeff Bezos and Merrick Garland 
  • Biden joked that Trump is ‘too old and mentally unfit to be president’ 

President Joe Biden was in full campaign mode as he took shots at former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party as a whole at the annual ‘Gridiron Dinner’ in Washington Saturday. 

The dinner is a venerable Washington tradition, a comedic white-tie affair at the Gridiron Club featuring skits, songs and speeches while the capital’s elites let down their hair, with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris sitting at a table with richest man on earth Jeff Bezos. 

The president does not always attend, though every president dating back to its founding in 1885 save for Grover Cleveland has addressed it at least once. No photos are allowed during the dinner and participants are asked not to post on social media until after it has concluded.

Saturday was Biden’s first time at the dinner as commander-in-chief and the first time a president had attended since Trump in 2018 and he began his 10-minute speech by poking fun at both his and Trump’s age, as the pair are the two oldest people to ever run for president.

‘One candidate is too old and mentally unfit to be president,’ he said. ‘The other is me.’ 

President Joe Biden was in full campaign mode as he took shots at former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party as a whole at the annual ‘Gridiron Dinner’ in Washington Saturday

It was the first of multiple shots fired at Trump, who is four years younger than Biden, the oldest president in American history during a speech Biden said was taking place ‘six hours past my bedtime.’ 

‘You know he ain’t the same guy that I beat in 2020. But don’t tell him. He thinks he’s running against Barack Obama. That’s what he said,’ Biden cracked. 

He then used a line bragging about his student debt relief efforts to mock Trump’s own problems with debt, saying his programs don’t ‘apply to everyone.’ 

‘Just yesterday, a defeated-looking man came up and said, ‘I’m being crushed by debt. I’m completely wiped out.’ I said, ‘Sorry, Donald I can’t help out.’ 

Trump praised Republican Governor of Utah Spencer Cox, who spoke at the dinner, though he noticed the absence of GOP presence. 

‘The Republicans were gonna do a skit tonight, but they couldn’t get a speaker,’ he said, poking fun at the Republicans’ battle to elect a replacement for Kevin McCarthy. 

He also poked fun at the lowered expectations leading to the mainstream media’s praise of his State of the Union address.

‘Even the press has to admit, I crushed it,’ he said. ‘The expectations were so low I just had to show up and remember who the president is.’

US President Joe Biden addressed the Gridiron Club in Washington

US President Joe Biden addressed the Gridiron Club in Washington

Saturday was Biden’s first time at the dinner as commander-in-chief and the first time a president had attended since Trump in 2018 and he began his 10-minute speech by poking fun at both his and Trump’s age, as the pair are the two oldest people to ever run for president

He even came after one of Trump’s former rivals for president, with a dig at the height of Florida’s Republican governor. ‘We’re committed to helping the little guy… Ron DeSantis, but he won’t take our calls,’ Biden quipped

Lauren Sanchez – the fiance of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos posts the menu, which includes red wine, braised short ribs and Cajun shrimp

Kristjan Prikk, Estonia's Ambassador to the United States, attended the dinner. The Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas sat at Biden's table

Kristjan Prikk, Estonia’s Ambassador to the United States, attended the dinner. The Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas sat at Biden’s table

Former Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Neal Katyal prepares for the event

Former Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Neal Katyal prepares for the event

He even came after one of Trump’s former rivals for president, with a dig at the height of Florida’s Republican governor.

‘We’re committed to helping the little guy… Ron DeSantis, but he won’t take our calls.’ 

He then returned to one of his recent favorite recurring jokes: the conspiracy that he rigged the nation’s largest sporting event for its most famous pop star. 

‘We’re proud of our accomplishments,’ he said. ‘Better jobs, wages rising, winning the Super Bowl for Taylor Swift. 

Biden eventually turned serious, discussing the Republican Party’s impeachment attempts and the 2024 election. 

He said the Democrats’ election campaign would show how they rebuilt the US economy after the Covid-19 pandemic ‘without encouraging the American people to inject bleach.’

‘Look, I wish these were jokes, but they’re not,’ added Biden.

‘Democracy and freedom are literally under attack. Putin’s on the march in Europe. My predecessor bows down to him and says, ‘Do whatever the hell you want.”

Biden eventually turned serious, discussing the Republican Party's impeachment attempts and the 2024 election

Biden eventually turned serious, discussing the Republican Party’s impeachment attempts and the 2024 election

ABC News White House correspondent MaryAlice Parks prepares for the event

ABC News White House correspondent MaryAlice Parks prepares for the event

CBS' Ed O'Keefe was one of many who participated in the skits Saturday night

CBS’ Ed O’Keefe was one of many who participated in the skits Saturday night

Former United States Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman brought his daughter to the dinner

Former United States Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman brought his daughter to the dinner

Vivian Salama posts Instagram stories of herself and the performers, which include journalists Ed O'Keefe of CBS News, Robert Costa, Fin Gomez and Jeff Mason

Vivian Salama posts Instagram stories of herself and the performers, which include journalists Ed O’Keefe of CBS News, Robert Costa, Fin Gomez and Jeff Mason

Noting that Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, a strong critic of Russia, was also at his table, he added ‘We will not bow down, they will not bow down and I will not bow down.’

Biden stayed after the dinner and mingled with guests. One social media user recorded Biden FaceTiming with the mother of the guest, thanking her for ‘saying nice things about me.’ 

The dinner has a reputation as a night of bipartisan mirth, and was jam-packed with politicians and who’s-who of Washington, including Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, at least eight other Cabinet members, at least five members of Congress, five governors and at least five ambassadors. 

Irish head of state Leo Varadkar, who’s in town for St. Patrick’s Day, also attended.

Also speaking at the dinner were Harris, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican. 

Cox, 48, joked that he was announcing his candidacy for the presidency ‘in 2052, when I still will be younger than both President Biden and President Trump.’

Biden and Harris were seated at the head table along with other administration officials and the foreign leaders, plus Gridiron president Dan Balz of the Washington Post. 

Seated also at the table were Balz’s bosses, the Post’s Executive Editor Sally Buzbee and the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez both sat at President Biden's table

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez both sat at President Biden’s table

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, whose U.S. business could be banned by Biden, was also in attendance

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, whose U.S. business could be banned by Biden, was also in attendance

Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, 48, joked that he was announcing his candidacy for the presidency 'in 2052, when I still will be younger than both President Biden and President Trump.'

Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, 48, joked that he was announcing his candidacy for the presidency ‘in 2052, when I still will be younger than both President Biden and President Trump.’

Journaliss Ed O'Keefe, Robert Costa and Fin Gomez prepare for a skit at the dinner

Journaliss Ed O’Keefe, Robert Costa and Fin Gomez prepare for a skit at the dinner

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, whose U.S. business could be banned by Biden, was also in attendance. 

The club’s 65 members, all representatives from news organizations, performed satirical songs and skits. One song poked fun at Biden’s and Trump’s ages to the tune of ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ by The Beatles.

At last year’s dinner, Mike Pence, who served as Vice President under Trump, offered a forceful rebuke of his one-time boss, saying history would hold Trump accountable for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

In his own appearance at the Gridiron Club six years ago, Trump did trade unusually playful digs with the Washington press corps and also joked about North Korea and his own leadership style.

Unlike its sister event, the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in April, the Gridiron dinner is not televised and tries to retain its yesteryear vibe with men in white tie and tails and women in long dresses.

Bezos, cabinet members and heads of state: Who sat at President Biden’s table at the Gridiron Dinner

Biden’s appearance at the Gridiron Dinner, in which politicians and journalists trade humorous barbs in a white-tie formal affair, was the first time a president has attended in person since former President Donald Trump in 2018.

His table was filled with several of his closest advisors and other elites, including: 

Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia

Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland

Vice President Kamala Harris

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff

Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States

Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Department of Energy

Acting Secretary Julie Su, Department of Labor

Secretary Xavier Becerra, Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security

Jeff Zients, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

Administrator Michael Regan, Environmental Protection Agency

Director Shalanda Young, Office of Management and Budget

Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Administrator Isabel Guzman, Small Business Administration

Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Bill Burns, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency

Karine Jean-Pierre, Assistant to the President and Press Secretary

Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States

Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army

General Randy George, Chief of Staff of the Army

Jeff Bezos, Amazon Executive Chairman

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