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  Newsmakers   Barack Obama out: President pokes fun at The Donald, Hill

Barack Obama out: President pokes fun at The Donald, Hill

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Published : May 2, 2016, 2:15 am IST
Updated : May 2, 2016, 2:15 am IST

US President Barack Obama kisses his wife Michelle after speaking at the 102nd White House Correspond-ents’ Association Dinner in Washington DC on Saturday. (Photo: AFP)

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US President Barack Obama kisses his wife Michelle after speaking at the 102nd White House Correspond-ents’ Association Dinner in Washington DC on Saturday. (Photo: AFP)

US President Barack Obama on Saturday night took aim at Democrats and Republicans alike in his final appearance headlining the star-studded White House correspondents’ dinner, but saved his sharpest barbs for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

 

“The Republican establishment is incredulous that he’s their most likely nominee,” Mr Obama said at the black-tie event. “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,” he said to howls of laughter, referring to contestants on the Miss Universe pageant that Mr Trump formerly co-owned.

Mr Obama made fun of the angst many in the Republican establishment have expressed at the prospect that Mr Trump or Tea Party candidate Ted Cruz could win the party’s nomination. “Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish, but instead a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan,” Mr Obama said, referring to the top Republican in the House of Representatives, who many have hoped could be lured into running for President. “That’s not an option people,” Mr Obama said. “You may not like steak or fish, but that’s your choice.” The 54-year-old President cracked jokes on Democratic frontrunner Hillary 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.

 

Ms Clinton earlier faced criticism for not releasing the transcripts of speeches to the bank she delivered in 2013 and for which she was reportedly paid $675,000. And 19th century abolitionist Harriet Tubman will soon appear on the $20 US bill.

He didn’t spare Bernie Sanders, who wore a suit and tie instead of a tuxedo and was the sole presidential candidate 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,” Mr Obama said, a reference to the flood of small contributions to Mr 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.”

 

He also called Ms Clinton “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 as he also poked fun at her. “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.’”

After calling Mr Sanders the bright new face of the Democratic Party, Mr Obama contrasted the slogan “Feel the Bern” with one he said was rival Ms Clinton’s — “Trudge Up the Hill.” Poking more fun at Mr Trump, Mr Obama said: “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.”

 

Mr Obama’s 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. “I’m gray, grizzled ... counting down the days to my death panel.”

He kidded about the pains of being a lame duck President. “Last week Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe,” Mr Obama cracked. “That was a slap in the face.”

The US 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.” He ended the speech, heavily laced with jokes and satire, that lasted for more than 30 minutes by dropping the mic and saying: “Obama out.”

 

Location: United States, Washington