Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond apologized for making a crude joke about White House adviser Kellyanne Conway whose comfortable position on a couch during a meeting of HBCU presidents in the Oval Office spurred widespread chatter.
Richmond, a Democrat who is in his fourth term representing New Orleans and Baton Rouge and is also chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, made the joke during a comedy routine at last week’s annual Washington Press Club Foundation congressional dinner. Citing the picture of Conway kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office, Richmond said Conway looked “kind of familiar there in that position.”
The joke fell flat as the room full of journalists, congressional staffers and politicians audibly groaned.
Richmond initially defended the joke, saying his use of the word “familiar” simply meant that Conway looked too comfortable.
But Sunday night he issued a statement apologizing for the joke.
“After a discussion with people I know and trust I understand the way my remarks have been received by many,” said Richmond. “I have consistently been a champion for women and women’s issues, and because of that the last thing I would want to ever do is utter words that would hurt or demean them. I apologize to Kellyanne Conway and everyone who has found my comments to be offensive.”
It was unclear whether Richmond reached out to Conway or simply issued a statement.
The congressional dinner is a light-hearted affair in which journalists and politicians mingle. Usually a Republican and a Democratic member of Congress take a stab at delivering a stand-up comedy routine. Some are funny while others bomb miserably.
The Republican comedian at this year’s dinner was Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. He first mentioned Conway’s picture during his stand-up routine.
“Has anyone seen the controversy around Kellyanne Conway and the couch in the Oval Office?” Scott said. “Come on, people. You remember the ’90s. That couch has had a whole lot of worse things. Come on now.”
Scott was apparently referring to President Bill Clinton’s Oval Office affair with a White House intern.
Richmond’s joke about Conway appeared to be off the cuff.
“Tim, you kind of opened the door. I really just want to know what was going on there, because, you know, I won’t tell anybody,” Richmond said. “And you can just explain to me that circumstance — because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there. Don’t answer — and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.”