It is a tradition at the Nation Press Foundation Dinner in Washington, D.C., for members of opposing parties to roast one another. However, at last night's dinner, Democratic Louisiana congressman Cedric Richmond may have taken it a step too far.
Rep. Richmond and Republican Senator Tim Scott (SC) were both invited to give remarks at the dinner. Scott was first to speak and joked about the recent Kellyanne Conway White House couch controversy. Scott remarked about the now-infamous photo:
Has anyone seen the controversy around Kellyanne Conway and the couch in the Oval Office? Come on, people. You remember the '90s. That couch has had a whole lot of worse things. Come on now.
The photo of Conway was a point of controversy. Some thought the act of kneeling on the couch by the Counselor to the President was disrespectful.
It turns out Conway was, in fact, taking a photo for members of the Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) who were visiting the Oval Office.
After Senator Scott's well-received remarks, Rep. Richmond took the stage. He got off to a slow start and then fumbled into a strange comment about the photo of Conway:
You even mentioned Kellyanne and the picture on the sofa. But I really just want to know what was going on there, because, I won't tell anybody. And you can just explain to me that — that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar there in that position there. But don't answer. And I don't want you to refer back to the ’90s.
The joke was met with groans in the room. This reporter chased down Rep. Richmond after the remark and asked directly if the comment about Conway on her knees was intended to be lewd. Rep. Richmond's response:
Hey man, I just said she looked comfortable in that position. I can't let Tim get away with making a Clinton joke without making one of my own.
Rep. Richmond left the building without further clarification.
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) who was sitting at the Politico table as a guest for the dinner told IJR that he found the joke unbecoming of a congressman:
On the first day of Women's History Month, it's pretty sad to hear a sitting congressman say that about a woman who has made so much history.
The Washington Post has called the joke “downright offensive.”
Conway has been married to her husband 16 years and is a mother of four.
UPDATE: RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has addressed the comments on Twitter, calling for Richmond to apologize:
UPDATE: Comment from the White House:
A spokesperson from the White House, speaking on background, tells IJR: “Rep. Richmond's should immediately apologize for his disgraceful and derogatory comment that was insulting to all women.”
UPDATE: Richmond offers statement, non-apology to the Washington Post:
Since some people have interpreted my joke to mean something that it didn’t I think it is important to clarify what I meant. Last night was night of levity. Where I grew up saying that someone is looking or acting ‘familiar’ simply means that they are behaving too comfortably.
I decided to use that joke due to the large social media backlash over her inappropriate posture considering there were more than 60 HBCU Presidents in the room."