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In a Battle of Politicians and the Press, Sen. Tim Kaine is the Top Speller

In 1913, the National Press Club hosted a spelling bee that pitted members of Congress against members of the press. This week, the club celebrated the centennial of that event by bringing lawmakers and journalists together once again for a spelling battle, and Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia emerged as the victor.

Katy Steinmetz, who organized the event, provides a recap of the action for TIME's Swampland blog. An excerpt:

In the end, the competition came down to one lawmaker and one journalist. Kaine, who was much ribbed by the journalist side for correctly spelling gourmand terms such as radicchio, emerged as the champion after POLITICO’s Rebecca Sinderbrand tragically failed to identify the h in ochlocracy. Dramatically stripping off his jacket, Kaine then correctly spelled nonpareil, making it the winning word as well as a fitting description for the evening. He dedicated his win to “oppressed, poor male spellers everywhere.”

The event was held as a celebration of D.C. history and a benefit for the Press Club’s non-profit Journalism Institute, with roughly 400 people coming out to watch the nerdy fireworks in Washington, D.C. Alongside Kaine were Senators Chris Coons, Jeff Flake and Chris Murphy, as well as Representatives Cartwright, Connolly, DeFazio, Deutch and Eshoo.

After Flake attempted to spell shenanigans with a c-h-i, he told the crowd that given his Mormon background, surely he couldn’t be expected to know anything about shenanigans. Connolly, who sailed through early rounds and spent much of his time sassing fellow contestants, went out in a confused, crowd-pleasing attempt at spelling hydrangeaapparently under the impression that the genus of flowering shrubs commonly cultivated in Britain was a hydranger.

Read the whole thing here, and check out the "ten most embarrassing lawmaker misspellings" from the event on the Washington Post's Reliable Sources blog here. If you'd like to watch the spelling bee in its entirety, the video is available on YouTube.


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Monday September 23rd 2013, 1:01 AM
Comment by: Kimmie
I'm interested in the journalists' misspellings, too, if not more so than the lawyers. The Press has much for which to answer, and this is as good a subject with which to start as any.

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