White House Correspondents' Dinner: "Trumplican" Omarosa, Sela Ward Talk Politics at Pre-Party
The 'Apprentice' star likened the reality show to the presidency on the carpet, where Bryan Cranston, Valerie Jarrett and Candace Cameron Bure also talked politics ahead of President Obama's final appearance at the annual "nerd prom."
Actors playing presidents offered ideas to aides to the real President and members of Congress on Friday, while D.C. officials in return shared some acting encouragement at parties ahead of Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner.
“I would vote for my president in a nanosecond,” said actress Sela Ward, who noted that she plays America’s first female president in Independence Day: Resurgence.
“She’s strong, proper, decisive, not afraid to use force, connecting her heart, brain, intellect, the full package,” Ward told The Hollywood Reporter. “She’s a very capable person.”
Ward was among celebrities at the Google, HBO and Smithsonian party at the Renwick Gallery on Friday night. In Washington to promote the Fox movie, the actress will sit at Fox News’ table at Saturday’s dinner.
It was one of various warm-up parties around Washington on Friday ahead of the even larger number set for Saturday before and after the dinner itself. Hollywood types and others mingled at the events with members of Congress, discussing President Obama’s final appearance at the dinner and the prospect of Donald Trump, the celebrity businessman, replacing him.
Omarosa Manigault, the onetime star of The Apprentice turned Trump surrogate, was one of his few backers at the event.
“I’m a Trumplican,” she said. “This is a reality TV generation, right? They're used to characters on TV saying whatever, doing whatever. Doing crazy things. Changing the game. That’s what we’ve done. We did that on The Apprentice in 2003. We’re doing that with the presidency in 2016.”
Omarosa talked about Trump's fight with the Republican National Committee just before the group’s chairman, Reince Priebus, walked the carpet with his wife.
Candace Cameron Bure, the former Full House actress turned resident Republican on The View, passing by minutes later, said that despite her conservative views, "I'm not endorsing anyone."
Ward, too, played somewhat coy. She said the political party of her fictional president, who is busy fighting aliens, is not revealed in the film. And she declined to offer explicit political guidance to the potential real first female president, Hillary Clinton, who is not in town for this year’s dinner, or to other politicians.
“I could give a lot of acting lessons,” said Ward.
Bryan Cranston, who portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson in HBO’s All the Way, a screen version of the hit Broadway play, said his LBJ, seen in the movie between John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the passage of a landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, offers a model to today’s D.C. partisans.
“It highlights the differences between politics during the Johnson era and politics now,” the actor said of the film.
The former Breaking Bad star described the politics his character participates in as a collaborative and pragmatic horse-trading exercise. He likened today’s politics to a “morbid sporting event — like if you win, then I lose.” Cranston added, “Both sides have kind of dug in, folded their arms and said, 'We’re not talking.’”
As Cranston referenced lawmakers refusing to talk to each other, Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, a colorful Democrat known in part for trying unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus (Cohen is white), interjected: “I’m going to talk to you for just a second.” Entering a roped-off media area and listening while the actor spoke to reporters, Cohen told Cranston: “I loved Trumbo. You did a great job.” He then added, “The critics are assholes,” seeming to surprise Cranston, who received mostly strong reviews for his Oscar-nominated performance in the biopic of the black-listed screenwriter.
Cranston met Friday with President Obama in the Oval Office. The actor said he shot All the Way in an exact replica of the President's office. Entering the real one, "I went: 'I know this,'" Cranston said. "I was doing it every day for a month.”
Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s confidante and top aide, who also attended the HBO party, praised All the Way as well as HBO’s Confirmation for offering a compelling version of history for people, like her daughter, who did not experience it.
But she noted Cranston’s fictional Oval Office was not the real thing.
“It’s very different when you actually work there day in and day out,” said Jarrett.
A few feet way, American soccer player Hope Solo pressed an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the need to make pesticides available to fight the Zika virus, about which Solo appeared passionate.
Nearby, Mark Kelly, former astronaut and husband of gun-safety advocate Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona Congresswoman, mingled with Michael Kelly, no relation, who plays ruthless White House chief of staff Doug Stamper on Netflix’s House of Cards.
The actor told The Hill at the Capitol Hill paper's earlier party that he would probably refuse to attend the annual dinner-related events if Trump wins.
“I’m just not a big supporter,” said Kelly.
The actor also may have reconsidered his attendance as he left the Renwick just before midnight. Entering a waiting SUV, Kelly and an unidentified colleague were in a brief scuffle with three men seeking autographs. No punches were thrown, but one of the autograph seekers, who declined to be identified, said that a man with Kelly grabbed him to restrain him as he approached the actor. That caused a confrontation in which Kelly stepped forward and appeared to receive a shove from another one of the autograph seekers, who shouted that the actor could have politely declined an autograph request. "I don't care if you're famous," the man said.
Kelly and his group then entered the SUV and drove away.