Washington: US President Barack Obama cracked jokes on himself, mocked journalists and lampooned Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in his final outing as comic-in-chief at the star-studded White House correspondents’ dinner today, ending his gig by dropping the mic and saying: “Obama out.”
At the black-tie event, Obama satirised everyone from Democrats to Republicans and from media to his potential White House successors, including Hillary Clinton.
But his sharpest barbs were reserved for Republican frontrunner Trump, who figured prominently in his speech.
“The Republican establishment is incredulous that he’s their most likely nominee,” Obama said at the event attended by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra and Hollywood celebrities.
“They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan,” the president said.
Obama, 54, began with cracking jokes on Clinton, apparently referring to her highly-paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. “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,” he said.
Trump and his party’s two other competitor John Kasich and Ted Cruz did not attend the dinner. So did the Democratic presidential frontrunner Clinton.
A gifted orator, Obama was at his best during his speech that lasted for more than 30 minutes.
“It is an honour 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,” the first African-American president 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 also called her “Aunt Hillary,” as at one point he virtually endorsed her candidature. “Next year someone else will be here, guess who she will be?” he said amidst laughter. Clinton is the only women contender in the race to the White House.As usual, Obama made journalists as part of his jokes. “I don’t want to spend too much time on Donald. 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,” he said.
“Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN,” he said. Thanking the media with a big “Thank You”, Obama concluded his speech with: “Obama out” and a microphone drop.
Earlier, he gave a shot out at Sanders, the Senator from Vermont, the only presidential candidate at the dinner. Sanders appeared at this black-tie dinner in his usual suit instead of tuxedo. His press secretary tweeted that he does not own a tuxedo. “That moment when everyone realises your boss really doesn’t own a tux…but it’s cool #WHCD,” he said.
During his speech Obama spotted Sanders sitting in the middle of the ballroom. “Bernie, you look like a million bucks – or we’ll put it in terms you’ll understand: You look like 37,000 donations of USD27,” Obama said amidst a huge laughter.
He did not spare Cruz and Kasich. “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,” Obama said.
Then he displayed images of Kasich eating during his campaign. “Some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own jokes tonight,” he said.
In the middle of his speech, Obama suddenly became serious and started talking about freedom of speech and press as if it was the end of his remarks. After a few sentences, he said this was a joke, he has to speak about Trump – the Republican candidate who joined politics only last summer and is now on the verge of becoming the party’s presidential nominee.
“I am a little hurt that he’s not here tonight. 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? What is he doing?” Obama asked.
“The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we’re praying Cleveland makes it through July,” Obama said, referring to the Republican convention this summer.
Eric Trump who was present at the dinner told reporters later that his father would have the last laugh. Confident that Donald would win the November presidential elections, Eric said his father would respond at the White House Correspondents Dinner next year. “We’ll take some shots back next year. He who laughs last laughs longest, right?” he said.
Obama’s mocking of the Republican party was at the full swing on Saturday night. He appeared in a pre-recorded video with the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.
“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,” he said making fun of the current House Speaker.
The Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus was not spared as well. “(Republican party) 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,” he said.
But his speech was interjected with making fun of himself and how the eight years of presidency has changed his life.
“Eight years ago I was a young man, full of idealism and vigour. And look at me know,” he said. “Hillary once questioned whether I’d be ready for a 3 am phone call. Now I’m awake anyway because I gotta go to the bathroom,” he said.