POLITICS

Palin Attending Alfalfa Club Dinner Because Of Obama: UPDATED WITH OBAMA REMARKS

***UPDATED January 31st, 9:56PM***

The exclusive Alfalfa dinner took place tonight, where politicians roast each other. Sarah Palin attended specifically because she knew President Obama was going (scroll down for more info about Palin and the dinner). The White House released an excerpt of Obama's remarks. Read the excerpt below, as prepared for delivery.

I am seriously glad to be here tonight at the annual Alfalfa dinner. I know that many you are aware that this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. If he were here with us tonight, the General would be 202 years old. And very confused.

Now, this hasn⿿t been reported yet, but it was actually Rahm⿿s idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again. Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.

But don't believe what you read. Rahm Emanuel is a real sweetheart.

No, it's true. Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children.

But these are the kind of negotiations you have to deal with as President. In just the first few weeks, I⿿ve had to engage in some of the toughest diplomacy of my life. And that was just to keep my Blackberry. I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could email me. It⿿s a very exclusive list. How exclusive?

Everyone look at the person sitting on your left⿦ Now look at the person sitting on your right⿦ None of you have my email address.

President Barack Obama poked fun at his volatile chief of staff in a free-for-all roasting of Washington and its politicians Saturday night.

Obama attended the Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual black-tie event where the capital's political and business leaders give humorous speeches.

After a day where Obama readied a new road map for bailout spending and faced questions over a second Cabinet nominee with tax problems, it was chief of staff Rahm Emanuel who was a target of much of the president's ribbing.

"Now this hasn't been reported yet, but it was actually Rahm's idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again," Obama said. "Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.

"Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children," according to Obama. Excerpts of Obama's remarks were released by the White House.

The event, conducted at a hotel a few blocks from the White House, was closed to the media.

The club's sole task is to put on the dinner. It is so named, according to club history, because the alfalfa plant's roots will reach far for liquid refreshment.

Founded in 1913, the club was off limits to women until 1994 when first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the event with then President Bill Clinton.

On Saturday, Obama also ribbed the club's historical roots and exclusive tradition. The club was started partly to celebrate the birthday of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

If Lee "were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old," Obama joked. "And very confused."

The president patted himself on the back for the "toughest diplomacy of my life" -- being able to keep his Blackberry.

"I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could e-mail me. It's a very exclusive list. How exclusive?"

"Everyone look at the person sitting on your left," Obama said. "Now look at the person sitting on your right. None of you have my e-mail address."

(This version CORRECTS that year club was founded was 1913.)

---

EARLIER: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she will attend an exclusive club dinner in Washington this weekend because it will offer her an audience with President Obama.

In an impromptu meeting with reporters Wednesday outside the governor's mansion, Palin also detailed reasons why she's started her own political action committee and laughed off suggestions that she's in line for an $11 million book deal.

Palin said she is participating in outside events, like this weekend's Alfalfa Club dinner, strictly to promote Alaska's interests as its governor.

"The Alfalfa dinner, yes, in fact that's because President Obama is scheduled to be there," Palin said. "And how often will I have an opportunity to have dinner with the president? I will take up that offer to do so."

According to Politico, both Obama and Palin will address the crowd.

However, Palin said she formed SarahPAC, a political fundraising organization, so that she would not be using state funds to attend events that might be considered political.

She also says she doesn't have a publisher for a book deal, and laughs off media reports that such a deal could bring her $11 million.