ABC News’ Jon Garcia reports:
It wasn’t quite a red carpet entry — in fact, there was no carpet in White House East Wing hallway. But some fairly big names arriving at the State Dinner for China’s Hu Jintao made the D.C. equivalent of a star-studded entry.
Hollywood celebs like Barbara Streisand and husband James Brolin, Law & Order’s B.D. Wong, and Jackie Chan had no trouble recognizing a photo op as they entered the White House residence and stopped to pose for the press.
Asked about her connection to the dinner, Streisand joked, “I used to work at a Chinese restaurant,” which caused a few in the press to gasp a bit. She was wearing a dress of “my own design” – a navy, pinstriped, three-piece skirt suit with rhinestone buttons – plus lots of diamond necklaces.
Actor Chan, who wore a tux with an untucked shirt and Mandarin collar, said he wasn’t planning on doing any of his trademark stunts at the dinner. And Wong, with his mother on his arm, turned the tables on the press, whipping out his own camera and shooting pictures of the media.
“It’s a little overwhelming. I’m happy to share this moment with her,” Wong said, adding, “I have to have a picture of this. I want a picture of all of you.”
Other celebrities, including designer Vera Wang, cellist Yo Yo Ma, Olympic medal-winning ice skater Michelle Kwan and fashion gatekeeper Anna Wintour made the walk, too.
When reporters, tongues firmly in cheek, called out a chorus of “Who are you wearing?” fashion designer Wang playfully replied, “I’ll let you guys guess.” Her two-tone, dove-and-charcoal-gray dress was accented with a necklace of flowering rhinestones which, incidentally, she also designed.
Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine, was wearing a white zig-zag Chanel suit and said she hoped to discuss investment in Chinese fashion with China’s leaders.
D.C.’s political types were there in full force: Sen. John Kerry and wife Theresa Heinz Kerry, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Delaware Attorney General and Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Beau Biden, and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
U.S. Ambassador to China – and prominent Republican - Jon Huntsman, who was put on the spot at the Obama/Hu press conference today about possibly running against Obama in 2012, didn’t stop to talk but, when asked about considering a run for president, said only, “We’re loyal to our country and our president.”
Sen. Kerry was asked about toning down the rhetoric in D.C. and offered this: “It’s up to individual senators and members of Congress to tone down the rhetoric and find compromise. … They can’t come here with a scorched-earth policy.”
Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch was also in attendance. Given the contentious issue that human rights has become between China and the U.S., Roth said, “I take the reason I was invited as a statement to President Hu.”
Several industry executives, many of whom had met with President Obama and President Hu earlier in the afternoon to discuss opening markets between the world’s two largest economies, made the walk. That list included Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Diamond and GE’s Jeff Immelt.
Media types came, too – including noted author, columnist and Asia-watcher Thomas Friedman, ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour and Disney’s Bob Iger and wife Willow Bay.
Former Presidents Carter and Clinton, and many of the high-level Chinese guests did not enter with the other guests in front of the media. Instead, they were brought in through the diplomatic room or from the west side of the residence.
(For the record, we didn’t see the Salahis this time.)