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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 09/10/2012

A kinder, gentler reprieve from politics at Points of Light benefit

Dikembe Mutombo, the retired NBA star and philanthropist, with young greeters at the Points of Light benefit dinner. (Dave Scavone for Allison O’Brien Photography)

After two weeks of partisan swagger in Tampa and Charlotte, Washington harked back two decades Friday to the kinder, gentler vibe of George H. W. Bush.

“We’re all fans and supporters of 41. . . and 43,” 41’s former vice president, Dan Quayle, told us at the Points of Light benefit dinner. “But this is more of a 41 crowd. It feels like a family reunion — bi-partisan family reunion.”

More than 250 guests (mostly Republican but with reps from both sides of the aisle, including Sam Nunn, Boyden Gray, Esther Coopersmith, George Pataki, Kristi Yamaguchi and Dikembe Mutombo) packed into an elegant tent at the Japanese embassy for the organization’s inaugural fundraising dinner.

Dan Quayle, Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and Neil Bush. (Dave Scavone )
Not present this time: GHWB himself, the man whose call to volunteer service inspired the group’s establishment and who serves as its honorary chair. (Board president Neil Bush, his son, said the foundation’s mission of matching eager helpers with thousands of non-profits worldwide makes it “the e-Harmony of the volunteer world.”) Last year, the former president and Barbara Bush were honored at an emotional tribute at the Kennedy Center. Friday’s dinner honored UPS for donating more than 1 million volunteer hours, Bonnie McElveen Hunter for her Red Cross work, Wes Moore for helping veterans and Hands On Tokyo for tsunami disaster relief.

Deborah Roberts and Al Roker emcee the Points of Light ben (Dave Scavone)

Because Yamaguchi starred in an ad extolling Mitt Romney’s work on the Salt Lake City Olympics, we figured she’d have something a little partisan to add.

“I don’t talk about my politics,” the skating gold-medalist told us. Really? So. . . we can’t assume anything from the ad?

“Probably not.” Okay, then!

Read earlier: Ex-presidents gather to honor George H.W. Bush at the Kennedy Center, 3/22/2011

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By  |  12:00 AM ET, 09/10/2012

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