WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama told some jokes and poked a little fun at himself as he addressed the Alfalfa Club dinner, an exclusive annual black-tie get-together of some of the capital's movers and shakers.
The club's sole mission is to put on a steak-and-lobster feast while giving high-powered politicians and business leaders another opportunity to rub elbows and share some laughs. Saturday night's dinner was, as in years past, off limits to reporters.
"It is great to be here tonight, because I have about 45 more minutes on the State of the Union that I'd like to deliver tonight," the president told the gathering, according to excerpts released by the White House.
Among those attending were current and former senators, including John Kerry of Massachusetts and Pat Leahy of Vermont. Former President George H.W. Bush and his son Jeb, a former governor of Florida, were also on the guest list.
"You've heard it from the pundits: 'Obama is cloistered in the White House.' 'He's aloof.' 'He's in the bubble.' 'He's not connecting,'" the president said. "And that's why one of my big goals this year was to get out and be among everyday, ordinary Americans -- like the men and women of the Alfalfa Club."
His appearance at the dinner came at the end of a high profile week for the president, beginning with his State of the Union policy address to a joint session of Congress and ending with a three-day tour of five states that included an exchange of words with Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer.
According to club history, the club is named after the alfalfa because the plant extends its roots far for a drink.
Obama was joined at the dinner, at a hotel near the White House, by his wife, Michelle.
It was the second club dinner the president addressed in four years. He last spoke at the dinner in 2009 but skipped the soiree last year and in 2010.