Vice President Joe Biden entertained visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping at an ornate lunch at the State Department today. And let’s use the word “entertain” loosely.
Guests seated at the head table at the Benjamin Franklin Dining Room soiree included Henry Kissinger, Thomas Friedman, Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.). They dined on soy marinated Alaskan butterfish with black garlic sauce and sipped Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay 2008 to the sounds of a string quartet.
Then Biden stood up and spoke “to lighten the mood,” according to the White House pool report.
“I told Vice President Xi his visit to Iowa tomorrow will assure him more delegates than I got,” Biden said, referring to his unsuccessful run for president in 2008.
“Mr. Vice President – this is not on the script — Lindsey Graham is relieved that you didn’t show up in [Iowa in] January. You may have won the Republican nomination,” Biden continued.
“Although I read Dr. Kissinger’s book on China, I felt that my trip to your country was at least as important,” Biden quipped near the end of his welcoming remarks.
In his remarks, Xi said China “will always put people’s interest first” and raised a toast to Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At a meeting between the two vice presidents before lunch, Biden called the U.S.-China relationship “one of the most important in the world.”
“The American people are looking forward to getting to know you,” Biden told Xi.
The foreign pool reporter, from Hong Kong Phoenix Satellite TV, had “an interesting observation: on Chinese part, from Mr. Xi to Amb. Zhang, almost everyone wears either blue tie or purple tie, and on American side, almost everyone wears red ties, even Mr. Biden wears a tie with many little red circles, and of course, Sec. Clinton wears a bright red coat, which made her outstanding from all the gentlemen in the meeting.”