Following his remarks at the Little Rock Political Animals Club luncheon on Wednesday, Gov. Mike Beebe was asked to answer only one question: How would he compare himself to past Arkansas governors?
Beebe paused, then responded with humor, which included a playful shot at Arkansas Democrat-Gazette political columnist John Brummett.
"It was once said of me at a roast, and it was applicable to John [Brummett]: We can both strut sitting down," Beebe said to the crowd of around 150 members.
Such lighthearted remarks paced the 90-minute luncheon, which marked the 30th anniversary of the club.
Several Arkansas notables were present to commemorate the occasion, including past chairmen as well as former governors Jim Guy Tucker, David Pryor and Dale Bumpers.
The group's founder, Skip Rutherford, ended the meeting by sharing his most memorable political moment of the last 30 years. It involved Tommy Robinson and Sheffield Nelson, who in 1990 ran against each other for governor in the Republican primary. Nelson went on to defeat Robinson, then lost to Democrat Bill Clinton. Rutherford called it one of the most important races ever in the state.
"After 30 years, when you look out at these faces, it has been a wonderful, educational journey," Rutherford said.
Beebe met with the media afterward, praising the club for becoming one of the most important gatherings in the state for top politicians.
"I think most people in politics look forward to being invited," Beebe said. "I think if you're not invited, that's a downer for somebody in politics. There's trepidation because, as you know, it's a pretty sophisticated bunch and a pretty good cross-section of different folks, and they know how to ask questions. And since [the media] is always here, [more] often than not, they can get kernels of information for stories from spontaneous responses."
Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.