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Obama gets laughs at White House correspondents dinner [Video]

May 01, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama heads to the rostrum at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night to offer his barbed observations on a few of his critics.
President Obama heads to the rostrum at the White House Correspondents… (Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated…)

Reporting from Washington  — On Saturday night, President Obama was the carnival barker (video below).

The setting was the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. The backdrop: the release of his long-form birth certificate three days earlier.

Obama said then that he had watched with “bemusement” for three years as so-called birther critics refused to accept that he was born in the United States, despite evidence to the contrary. So on Saturday, he acknowledged the power of innuendo while dinging some of his would-be rivals in the 2012 campaign.

“Michele Bachmann is here, though, I understand, and she is thinking about running for president, which is weird because I hear she was born in Canada,” Obama said of the Minnesota congresswoman.

“This is how it starts,” he said to laughter.

How about Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota?

“He seems all American. But have you heard his real middle name? Tim ‘Hosni’ Pawlenty?” he said.

Jon Huntsman, the soon-to-be former U.S. ambassador to China who Obama called a “buddy”: “He didn’t learn to speak Chinese to go there. Oh, no. He learned English to come here.”

As for Mitt Romney — well, no embellishment necessary.

“I heard he passed universal healthcare when he was governor of Massachusetts. Someone should get to the bottom of that,” Obama said.

Of course, the president saved his best for Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and reality show host.

Referring to a recent episode of “Celebrity Apprentice,” he praised Trump for his leadership.

“You didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey,” he said. “These are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir.”

Trump, sitting just feet away as a guest of the Washington Post, didn't seem to enjoy the jokes as much as the rest of the audience.

One wonders what the president’s act would have looked like had he not released the birth certificate last week. “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers joked that he had to throw his routine out the window.

“Who told you I had birth certificate jokes? It was Assange, wasn’t it?” Meyers said, referring to Julian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks. “Is Biden still vice president? Because if not I’m down to 'thank you and god bless America?' ”

 

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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