Jindal took a poke at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, telling the audience that Romney had warned him that "47 percent of you can't take a joke." Referring to his own prospects for a presidential run, Jindal asked, "What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?"
Political disputes and feuds between politicians and the news media provided plenty of fodder for jokes and Gridiron parodies. There was Obama's sometimes frosty relationship with the news media, the internal struggles roiling the Republican Party, and journalist Bob Woodward's dustup with White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. He advised Woodward in an email that the veteran Watergate reporter would regret his reporting about the forced spending cuts called a sequester.
In prepared remarks to welcome the 650 people attending the dinner, Gridiron President Charles J. Lewis of Hearst Newspapers noted that the organization had promised to keep the evening short, "especially because Gene Sperling said that a late night is something we'd all regret."
With a nod to print reporters' complaints about dealing with the Obama administration, Lewis said he thought he had overhead Obama remark on the way to the dinner: "So many newspaper reporters. So many interviews to turn down."