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Daniel Kurtzman

Obama Cracks Jokes at Gridiron Dinner

By March 14, 2011

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Obama Cracks Jokes at Gridiron Dinner President Obama drew big laughs as he poked fun at himself and his potential 2012 GOP rivals at the Gridiron Club Dinner.

It was Obama's first appearance as president at the annual white-tie gala, where the media elite and political classes come together to lampoon each other — and feed suspicions that they're all in bed together.

Stepping to the podium as the Marine Band played "Hail to the Chief," Obama got the laughs rolling from the get-go as he waved them off and instead told them to "play that song we talked about." The band broke into "Born in the U.S.A."

"Some things just bear repeating," Obama quipped, wryly referencing the birthers who refuse to believe he's an American.

More highlights from Obama's stand-up routine:

On the last time he appeared at the Gridiron dinner in 2006: "Back then I was a newcomer who couldn't get anything done in the Senate. Now I'm a president who can't get anything done in the Senate."

On potential GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty: "Tim Pawlenty's not here, but he's hit the campaign trail hard. And to be honest, I think the American people are going to have some tough questions for Tim. Specifically, 'Who are you and where do you come from?' Which is OK. Two years into my presidency and I'm still getting those questions."

On Mississippi's portly Gov. Haley Barbour supporting Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign: "Haley, when Michelle said you need to run, she didn't mean for president!"

On potential GOP rival Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana: "I know some people discount Mitch because he's not -- as they say in the NBA -- long enough. But the don't realize how scrappy he is. I watched him during dinner. He tore into that fillet like it was a public employee. And Mitch is experienced. Before he was governor Mitch was a pharmaceutical executive and he was George W. Bush's budget director. I don't have a joke here. I just want to point it out."

On a new spirit of bipartisanship: "We're seeing people with strong disagreements get along as never before. You have the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- working together every day, sharing a host body. It's inspiring. Or creepy. Depending on how you look at it."

On House Speaker John Boehner's unusual coloring: "I used to think that it was a tan. But after seeing how often he tears up, I've come to realize: that's not a tan, that's rust."

On Rahm Emanuel: "You know, the day I hired Rahm as my chief of staff, unemployment was under 8 percent and my approval ratings were in the 60s. So, good luck, Chicago."

On Bill O'Reilly: "I love the press. I even sat for an interview with Bill O'Reilly right before the Super Bowl. That was a change of pace. I don't often get a chance to be in a room with an ego that's bigger than mine."

On negative coverage: "I just don't pay much attention to it. Most days I barely skim through the comment section of Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Firedog Lake, The Daily Dish, Boingboing.net."

On his critics: "I know that people think I'm not passionate enough. That I'm too cool. That I'm too detached. But as I was going through my daily routine -- sitting alone in my study, meditating, thinking about how to win the future -- I pondered this critique, and calmly rejected it as thoroughly illogical. And for all those who think I golf too much, let me be clear. I'm not spending time on the golf course -- I'm investing time on the golf course."

On TSA pat-downs: "America's favorite voyeur, TSA Administrator John Pistole is in the house. No hard feelings, John. I mean that literally. Please."

On ex-GOP congressman and Craigslist troller Chris Lee: "He wanted to be here tonight. But apparently he didn't know the rules -- no shoes, no shirt, no service."

On the evening drawing to a close: "I understand that the bar will be open until midnight. And I hope the government will be, too."

The event was closed to TV cameras, but you can read the full transcript of Obama's speech, plus check out more comedy highlights from the annual Gridiron roast.

Next up on the Washington comedy circuit: the Congressional Correspondents' Dinner on March 30, followed by the White House Correspondents' Dinner on April 30.

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