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April 24, 2014

Chaffetz, Heitkamp Duel on Congressional Dinner Stage

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who was misidentified in the program for the Washington Press Club Foundation Congressional Dinner as being from New Mexico, drew belly laughs Wednesday night after throwing colleagues under the bus, but still trailed newcomer Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., as funniest pol.

Whereas Chaffetz took aim at time-honored inside-baseball targets — Speaker John A. Boehner’s preternatural tan, ex-Rep. Ron Paul’s quirks, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s weight, congressional logjams (“I don’t know why our approval rating is so low. We haven’t done anything”) — Heitkamp delved into more personal territory.

She shared how her second-grader once took her down a few pegs with a no-fuss intro (“This is my mom, she makes speeches for a living,” the precocious youngster warned). She spun a yarn about how a post-breast-cancer trip to see Tina Turner opened her eyes to her husband’s deepest desires.

“Oh, Darwin, when I turn 60 I want to look just like Tina Turner,” she told her hubby. “Why wait?” she said he fired back.

Yes, she did some shtick about being the new girl in town (“You’re orientation is, ‘Here’s your pin. Good luck’). And you better believe former Sen. Kent Conrad’s beloved budget charts got a shout-out. But in the end, Heitkamp stuck with what she knew — North Dakota, marriage, softball — and the consensus was she hit a home run.

“She just seemed like she’d be more fun to hang out with,” one veteran hack said after the obviously pre-scripted assault.

Elsewhere at the political yukfest, things were much more serious. Like the member we overheard delivering this professional post-mortem of evicted Florida Republican Connie Mack’s career.

“I don’t know what his story’s gonna be … whether he makes a comeback. I think he lost that fire in the belly,” the concerned pol preached to a buddy.

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