Yesterday, we reported on the impending meeting between Brad Pitt, representing Make It Right NOLA and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The meeting happened Wednesday afternoon, and it was quite the spectacle.
MSNBC ran live coverage of Brad’s “statement” outside of the Speaker’s office – it amounted to a quick, polite “thank you for meeting with me”. MSNBC treated Brad’s visit like Dick Cheney shot somebody. They actually interrupted their coverage of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ daily conference.
The Hill has a long story about the chaos Brad caused in the Capital building. People were going crazy. Congressional staffers, pages and even members of Congress were behaving like crazed, glassy-eyed Brangelunatics. But first, let The Hill set the scene:
Brad Pitt became the latest Hollywood star to lobby Congress, eliciting gasps and screams from staffers and tourists as he strode about the Capital complex to meet with three top lawmakers.
Celebrity sightings on Capitol Hill are hardly the exception as the lines blur between filmmaking and politicking. But the appearance of an A-lister can shake up the day’s agenda and turn suited staffers into fired-up fans.
Upon entering the office of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Pitt, dressed in a simple black suit, black vest and white shirt, said he had a simple message for her. When asked what he planned to say to Murray, the goateed actor responded with a smile.
“Hello,” he said.
In truth, Pitt was on Capitol Hill to discuss Make It Right NOLA, a project he helped launch in 2007 to construct affordable and environmentally sustainable housing for low-income residents of the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans who lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Pitt was in Washington with Steven Bing, a longtime Democratic fundraiser and friend of Bill Clinton.
By mid-afternoon, Pitt had left Murray’s office to head to a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pitt’s 3:30 p.m. scheduled photo opportunity with Pelosi began early — a rarity for the Speaker’s schedule — because, as one aide put it, “there were too many people.”
“It really is an honor to have him here and I know for some of my staff, and for bragging rights to my children and my grandchildren, a real treat for me as well,” Pelosi said at the press conference, which was carried live by some television networks.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) also welcomed Pitt to the Capitol. “I did not realize when the Speaker asked me to head the Katrina Task Force that it would lead to my getting in a position to make my grandchildren so envious of me because this ethic brought the two of us, Brad Pitt and myself, together,” he told reporters.
“I just want to say thank you to the Speaker for opening up doors for us to come in and discuss the rebuilding effort – the current rebuilding effort going on in New Orleans and how we can expand this idea of affordability and sustainability because we think we have a model that works,” Pitt said in front of the cameras before meeting privately with Pelosi.
Pitt also met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier in the day, though Reid’s office was mum on how the chat went. “First rule about Reid-Pitt meeting: Don’t talk about Reid-Pitt meeting,” Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau wrote in an e-mail.
Pitt and Murray were a bit more candid about their meeting. “It went very well,” Pitt said after leaving Murray’s Russell office. “We were talking about the rebuilding efforts.”
A spokeswoman for Murray concurred. “They had a good meeting and discussed the need for affordable sustainable housing and creating green collar jobs,” Alex Glass wrote in an e-mail.
As he made his way to the Capitol, Pitt said, “It’s an honor to be here,” when asked of his impressions of the Capitol and its lawmakers.
From The Hill
MSNBC actually showed Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Clyburn’s statements live, and in the background, you could see Brad wincing as they mentioned their grandchildren. Apparently, Congressional grandchildren love Brad Pitt. And who knew Harry Reid and his staff were such die-hard Fight Club fans? Or were they attempting to look cool?
The Hill also reports on some of the other reactions from people in the Capital building:
[Brad Pitt], whose partner, Angelina Jolie, is also in town filming a movie, took the Senate subway from Murray’s office building to the Capitol, then walked past the Senate floor and through the Rotunda on his way to Pelosi’s office. Flanked by no fewer than six bodyguards and police officers, Pitt drew spontaneous gasps from tourists as he walked through the building.
“You must be tired,” he chuckled at one point to a photographer who had pursued him from Russell to the Capitol. A gaggle of pages ran down the back stairwell to find Pitt after Capitol Police cleared a hallway upstairs, and one aide close to the Speaker said, “He has more security than the prime minister of England,” who had addressed a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday.
Pelosi’s office made no immediate comments on the meeting, but in a staff meeting earlier in the day, some Pelosi aides discussed what to say if the media asked why she was meeting with Pitt.
An aide said, “All the women in the room said, ‘Why not?’”
Mary Tarr, the office manager for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), waved a sign at Pitt as he walked into Murray’s office.
“Angeline, Christine and Lindsay, I’m here at the Capitol talking to your mom,” the sign read. She was hoping to get Pitt to take a photo with her so her daughters would believe she saw him.
“I never do this — I swear,” she said.
One female tourist was expecting star sightings at the Capitol, but not Pitt.
“I would rather have seen the president, but I’ll take Brad Pitt,” she said to her companion.
By 3:45 p.m., hordes of tourists parked around the Rotunda perimeter and outside Pelosi’s office in anticipation of Pitt’s exit. Staffers outside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office had their cameras primed for quick shots. Pitt left his meeting with Pelosi out a back door at 3:55.
“I’d rather not say,” he said when asked how his meeting with the House Speaker went.
“Thanks for coming,” a female staffer outside McConnell’s office said to him as he walked by, sunglasses in hand. He finally left the Capitol complex at 4 p.m., whisked out by his security team in a black Ford SUV.
From The Hill
It’s pretty obvious some people were trying to act cool, trying to act like they had a modicum of self-respect. And some just wanted to treat the Capital building like a red carpet rope-line. Ordinarily, I might feel some disgust with these professional public servants getting in such a tizzy over Brad, but I just end up feeling bad for them. They were starved for a little glamour. They earned him.
Here’s coverage from MSNBC:
Thanks to WENN.com for these photos of Pitt’s press conference with Nancy Pelosi yesterday. He is also shown with Democratic Whip James Clyburn, the head of the House’s Katrina task force.