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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 10/26/2011

Paul Ryan honored by Jack Kemp Foundation


Redskins linebacker London Fletcher and Rep. Paul Ryan at Tuesday's Kemp Foundation dinner at the Mayflower Hotel. (Courtesy of the Rick Reinhard/Kemp Foundation)

What the GOP ticket needs is a conservative/former pro quarterback/congressman — at least according to everyone at the Mayflower Hotel Tuesday night.

“I gotta tell you, we sure could use a Jack Kemp these days,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, an intern and then staffer for the man who mentored him 20 years ago.

Kemp, who died in 2009, was all about leadership on the field and off — hence, the Kemp Foundation’s first ever Leadership Award (a 1968 Kemp football). Ryan, honored for his budget crunching, credited Kemp for bringing complicated economic ideas to life.

His brand of non-stop optimism earned him plenty of friends; the 250 dinner guests included Bob Michel, Trent Lott, Bob Livingston, Bill Bennett, Fred Malek and Morton Kondracke, who’s plowing through Kemp’s papers at the Library of Congress. “We believe dad will be remembered well by history,” foundation president Jimmy Kemp told us.

In a counter-programming move for those sick of political stemwinders, the hosts selected Redskins linebacker London Fletcher to deliver the night’s keynote. “I tease my wife that politics is in my future: I’m good -looking, I’ve got a great smile and a beautiful wife,” he told the crowd. “If that’s not enough to win an election, I don’t know what is.”

By  |  10:00 PM ET, 10/26/2011

 
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