Panetta, Perry crack jokes with media at Gridiron

By the Associated Press | March 24, 2012 | 11:35 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is making light of his advantage being an Italian-American Pentagon chief. He made the comment Saturday night while serving as the stand-in for President Barack Obama at the 127th Gridiron Dinner.

Panetta said that unlike predecessors Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld, he could sit at the negotiating table and say: "I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse" — a reference to the famous line from "The Godfather."

The event brought together members of the news media, administration officials and politicians for a night of songs and skits.

Speaking for the Republicans was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who poked fun at his gaffes during an unsuccessful run for the GOP presidential nomination.