US President Barack Obama got one more chance to poke fun at fellow politicians, the press and himself at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner — but it was Donald Trump who got the biggest roasting.
During his eighth and final appearance at the event it looked as if Obama was going to finish his speech having largely left the brash billionaire out of his jokes. But as expected Obama got the last laugh.
“We weren’t just going to stop there! Come on! Although I am a little hurt that he’s not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time,” Obama joked.
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“It is surprising. You’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?
Is he at home, eating a Trump steak? Tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doing?,” Obama asked the crowd of guests.
“The Republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. Incredulous! Shocking! 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.
“And there’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable and that is in closing Guantanamo, because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”
Obama told the guests that despite having much more material on Trump he would finish his jibes there.
No president will ever have more swag than Barack Obama.
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“I don’t want to spend too much time on the Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint. Because I think we can all agree that, from the start, he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage, befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. I hope y’all are proud of yourselves!,” he said.
“The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we’re praying that Cleveland makes it through July.”
And Obama, who turned comedian for the night, left the room in stitches when he finished his speech and dropped his microphone on the floor.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined Secretary of State John Kerry and other government officials in the ballroom. Film and television stars at the event included Oscar winners Helen Mirren and Jared Leto, Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston, Independence Day stars Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, and actress Rachel McAdams.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama enjoys the opportunity to speak at the event, in part, because so many of the other speeches he gives deal with such serious topics, and this is the unique event that allows him to share some laughs about the political process and those who participate.
Wilmore also likes to make fun of Washington. He is best known for appearances as the “senior black correspondent” on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He is now host of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Proceeds from the dinner go toward journalism scholarships and awards.
This year’s winners are: Carol Lee of the Wall Street Journal, winner of the Aldo Beckman Memorial Award for excellence in White House coverage; Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, winner of the Merriman Smith Award for outstanding White House coverage under deadline pressure; Norah O’Donnell of CBS News, winner of the Merriman Smith Award for broadcast journalism; Terrence McCoy of The Washington Post and Neela Banerjee, John Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song of InsideClimate, winners of the Edgar A. Poe award, which recognises excellence in coverage of events or investigative topics of regional or national interest.
OBAMA’S FIVE BEST JOKES:
On Prince George: “Last week, Prince George showed up to a meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.”
On Trump: “And there’s one area where Donald’s experience could be valuable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”
On Clinton: “Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook.”
On Cruz: “Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana, Hoosier country, stood on a basketball court, and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? But sure, I’m the foreign one. “
On himself: “My approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high I was trying to decide on my major.”