Heard on the Hill

Master of Ceremonies Schumer Ready for His Close-Up

Schumer is relishing his final days as master of ceremonies of the biggest event of the year — the presidential inauguration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Self-professed New York vegetable and Kelly Clarkson fan Sen. Charles E. Schumer showcased on Friday the two crystal vases to be presented to Barack Obama and Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Relishing his final days as master of ceremonies of the biggest event of the year — the presidential inauguration — the New York Democrat was in his favorite territory, the news conference, to offer a sneak peek at the two oversized, tapering etched-glass vases designed and donated by the Lenox Corp. Or, in his words: wine glasses.

Lenox Vice President of Design Timothy Carder, who supervised master glass-cutter Peter O’Rourke in designing the etchings on the vases — a tableau of the White House for Obama, a scene of the Capitol for Biden — was on hand to answer questions. Schumer, who will present the vases to Obama and Biden at the inaugural luncheon in Statuary Hall on Monday following the swearing-in ceremony on the West Terrace, had a lot of them. “Did you take photographs for these?” Schumer asked.

“Yes,” Carder replied.

“It almost looks like it’s floating inside,” Schumer said of the engraving of Obama’s name inside the crystal base on which the vase sits. “How do you do that? Do you use chemicals?”

“It’s etched,” Carder said.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chairman then answered questions about how he was getting ready for the big day, practicing his luncheon address, and looking forward to Obama’s speech, as well as pop star Clarkson’s performance.

When HOH queried Schumer about whether there were vegetarian options on the luncheon menu, he joked that there would be “only New York vegetables ... and you’re looking at one.”

He also proudly explained that he and his wife will get to have tea at the White House on inauguration morning, and he’ll get to ride with Obama in the presidential limousine to the Capitol.

“I have made a commitment to myself that I’m not going to talk politics,” Schumer said, but “If he wants to, that’s fine with me.”

Alternative topics of conversation? Schumer shrugged and said maybe the Chicago White Sox, or the weather. Or maybe what a treat Obama’s in for in receiving these crystal vases.