In last laugh, Obama roasts presidential candidates
Dropping the micDropping the mic

In last laugh, Obama roasts presidential candidates

At correspondents’ dinner, none spared barbs of outgoing president, who also laughs at himself in skit about life after office

US President Barack Obama speaks at the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, DC, April 30, 2016. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)
US President Barack Obama speaks at the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, DC, April 30, 2016. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

Even though US President Barack Obama and his wife can’t wait to get out of the White House, being a lame duck can hurt a guy.

“Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe,” Obama cracked at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night. “That was a slap in the face.”

Obama drew plenty of laughs with his barbed remarks to a ballroom filled with journalists, politicians, and movie and television stars. It was his eighth appearance at the event and his last as president. TV host Larry Wilmore provided the professional comedy for the evening.

“If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year,” Obama said. “Earn me some serious Tubmans,” he added, referring to plans to put abolitionist icon Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bill.

Obama took a few swipes at the presidential race, noting that “next year at this time someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”

Calling presidential candidate Bernie Sanders the bright new face of the Democratic Party, Obama contrasted his slogan, “Feel the Bern,” with one he said was that of rival Hillary Clinton: “Trudge Up the Hill.”

But Republicans took the brunt of Obama’s humorous broadsides. “Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish,” he told the diners, “and instead a whole bunch of you wrote in ‘Paul Ryan.'”

Of Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Obama said, “He has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”

He added: “And there’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo — because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”

Trump, a frequent guest of the event, was absent on Saturday, but Sanders was present.

“Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put it in terms you will understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each,” Obama said, a reference to the flood of small contributions to Sanders’ insurgent campaign.

“I am hurt, though, Bernie, that you have distanced yourself from me. That’s not something that you do to your comrade.”

In a prerecorded skit, the president lampooned his prospects of filling his days after leaving office. He eventually seeks advice from the recently retired House speaker, Republican John Boehner, who quips, “Now you ask me for advice?” as the two men watch the movie Toy Story together.

On the other hand, he pointed out that his approval ratings are up. “The last time I was this high,” he said, “I was trying to decide on my major.”

When he said he couldn’t explain the rise in his popularity, two photographs appeared on ballroom screens: Trump and Ted Cruz.

The president waxed nostalgic at times. “Eight years ago, I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific.”

And he acknowledged that the years had taken their toll. “I’m gray, grizzled… counting down the days to my death panel.”

Turning serious at the end of his remarks, the president thanked the White House press corps and praised a free press.

“I just have two more words to say: ‘Obama out.'” With that, he held out the mic and dropped it.

As usual, the Washington Hilton ballroom was a celebrity-spotters dream. Sanders was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and other government officials in taking a seat. Also on hand were Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Among the film and television performers at the event were Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Jared Leto, “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston, “Independence Day” stars Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, actress Rachel McAdams, and “Night Manager” miniseries star Tom Hiddleston.

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