WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) — President Barack Obama joked about “the end of the republic”, gave a nod to Hillary Clinton and laughingly lamented Donald Trump’s absence at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night.
Obama spoke for roughly 32 minutes in front of the correspondents and many of the candidates working to succeed him.
“It’s an honor to be here at my last – and perhaps the last – White House Correspondents’ Dinner. You all look great. The end of the republic has never looked better.
“Here we are, my eighth and final address at this unique event and I am excited. If this material works well, I’m going to use it for Goldman Sachs.”
After praising Clinton, the Democratic front runner for president, Obama said, “You’ve got to admit, though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative just signing up to Facebook… “Did you get my poke?… I’m not sure I’m using this right.” He referred to her as “Aunt Hillary.”
Turning to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, he poked more fun. “Bernie, you look like a million bucks – or we’ll put it in terms you’ll understand: You look like 37,000 donations of $27.”
Obama also mentioned he was a bit hurt that Trump didn’t show for the event. “We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising. We’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras, and he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Sitting at home eating a Trump Steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel?
“I don’t want to spend too much time on Donald,” he told the press crowd. “Following your lead, I’m going to show some restraint, because I think we can all agree that from the start he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting of the seriousness of his candidacy. You all ought to be proud of yourselves.”
While he was at it, the president jabbed at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s top competitor in the race for the Republican nomination.
“Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana – Hoosier country – stood on a basketball court and called a hoop a ‘basketball ring.’ What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? But sure, I’m the foreign one.
“Some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own jokes tonight.” he said, as images of Ohio Gov. John Kasech, another Republican presidential candidate, were flashed on a screen.
And then he moved on to the Republicans at large. “Just look at the confusion over invitations to tonight’s dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish, but instead a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan.”
On the Republic National Committee: “GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel that you’ve earned a night off. Congratulations on an already successful Republican Party nominating process. It’s all going great.”
In just six short months, he said, he’ll officially be a lame duck president, “which means Congress now will flat-out reject my authority,” he said to the roar of the crowd. “And Republican leaders won’t take my phone calls. And this is going to take some getting used to, it’s really going to — it’s a curve ball. I don’t know what to do with it.
“Of course, in fact, for months now congressional Republicans have been saying there are things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them. But on everything else, it’s another story. And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we’ve got Republican Sens. Tim Scott and Cory Gardner, they’re in the house, which reminds me, security, bar the doors! Judge Merrick Garland, come on out, we’re going to do this right here, right now,” he said to applause. “It’s like “The Red Wedding.”
The president concluded his remarks with, “Obama out,” and a microphone drop.