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FULL TRANSCRIPT: "Obama out" President Barack Obama's hilarious final White House correspondents' dinner speech (transcribed by Sonix)
Pres. Barack Obama: You can't say it, but you know it's true.
Pres. Barack Obama: Good evening, everybody.
Audience: Good evening.
Pres. Barack Obama: It is an honor 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.
Pres. Barack Obama: I do apologize. I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for jokes that white people should not make. That's a tip for you, Jeff.
Pres. Barack Obama: Anyway, here we are, my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. And I am excited. If this material works well, I'm gonna use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That's right. That's right.
Pres. Barack Obama: My brilliant and beautiful wife, Michelle, is here tonight. She looked so happy to be here. That's called practice. It's like learning to do three-minute planks, and she makes it look easy now, but, next year, this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it's anyone's guess who she will be. But standing here, I can't help but be reflective and a little sentimental.
Pres. Barack Obama: Eight years ago, I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific. Eight years ago, I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled, just counting down the days till my death panel.
Pres. Barack Obama: Hillary once questioned whether I'd be ready for a 3:00 a.m. phone call. Now, I'm awake anyway because I got to go the bathroom. I'm up. In fact, somebody recently said to me, "Mr. President, you are so yesterday. Justin Trudeau has completely replaced you. He is so handsome. He's so charming. He's the future." And I said, "Justin, just give it a rest." I resented that.
Pres. Barack Obama: But, meanwhile, Michelle has not aged today. The only way you can date her in photos is by looking at me. Take a look. Here we are in 2008. Here we are a few years later. And this one is from two weeks ago. So, time passes.
Pres. Barack Obama: In just six short months, I will be officially a lame duck, which means Congress, now, will flat out reject my authority, and Republican leaders won't take my phone calls. And this is gonna take some getting used to. It's really going to … It's a curve ball. I don't know what to do with it.
Pres. Barack Obama: Of course, in fact, four months now, congressional Republicans have been saying there are things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them. But on everything else, it's another story. And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we've got Republican Senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They're in the House, which reminds me, security, bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland, come on out. We're gonna do this right here, right now. It's like the red wedding.
Pres. Barack Obama: But it's not just Congress. Even some foreign leaders, they've been looking ahead, anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.
Pres. Barack Obama: Although, while in England, I did have lunch with Her Majesty, the Queen, took in a performance of Shakespeare, hit the links with David Cameron. Just in case anybody is still debating whether I'm black enough, I think that settles the debate.
Pres. Barack Obama: I won't like, but, look, this is a tough transition. It's hard. Key staff are now starting to leave the White House. Even reporters have left me. Savannah Guthrie, she's left the White House press corps to host The Today Show. Norah O'Donnell left the briefing room to host CBS This Morning. Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.
Audience: But the prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week, but I have to give Secret Service credit. They found Michelle, brought her back. She's safe. She's safe back at home now. It's only nine more months, baby. Settle down.
Pres. Barack Obama: And yet somehow, despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major. And here's the thing, I haven't really done anything differently. So, it's odd. Even my aides can't explain the rising poll numbers. What has changed? Nobody can figure it out. Puzzling.
Pres. Barack Obama: Anyway, in this last year, I do have more appreciation for those who've been with me on this amazing ride. Like one of our finest public servants, Joe Biden. God bless him. I love that guy. I love Joe Biden, I really do. And I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe.
Pres. Barack Obama: Also, I would be remiss. Let's give it up for our host, Larry Wilmore. Also known as one of the two black guys who's not Jon Stewart. You're the South African guy, right? I love Larry. And his parents are here who are from Evanston, which is a great town.
Pres. Barack Obama: I also would like to acknowledge some of the award-winning reporters that we have with us here tonight: Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. Thank you all for everything that you've done. I'm just joking. As you know, Spotlight is a film, a movie about investigative journalists with the resources and the autonomy to chase down the truth and hold the powerful accountable. Best fantasy films and Star Wars.
Pres. Barack Obama: Look, that was maybe a cheap shot. I understand the news business is tough these days. It keeps changing all the time. Every year at this dinner, somebody makes a joke about BuzzFeed, for example, changing the media landscape. And every year, The Washington Post laughs a little bit less hard. Just kind of a silence there, especially at the Washington Post table.
Pres. Barack Obama: GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel that you've earned a night off. Congratulations on all your success, the Republican party, the nomination process. It's all going great. Keep it up.
Pres. Barack Obama: Kendall Jenner is also here. And we had a chance to meet her backstage. She seems like a very nice, young woman. I'm not exactly sure what she does, but I am told that my Twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.
Pres. Barack Obama: Helen Mirren is here tonight. I don't even have a joke here. I just think Helen Mirren is awesome. She's awesome. Sitting at the same table, I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary, and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it's not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all, Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in depth. And he's actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.
Pres. Barack Obama: What an election season. For example, we've got the bright new face of the Democratic Party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or to put in terms you'll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each. A lot of folks have been surprised by the Bernie phenomena, especially his appeal to young people. But not me. I get it.
Pres. Barack Obama: Just recently, a young person came up to me and said she was sick of politicians standing in the way of her dreams. As if we were actually going to let Malia go to Burning Man this year. It was not going to happen. Bernie might have let her go. Not us. I am hurt, though, Bernie, that you've been distancing yourself a little from me. I mean, that's just not something that you do to your comrade.
Pres. Barack Obama: Bernie's slogan has helped his campaign catch fire among young people, "Feel the Bern. Feel the Bern." That's a good slogan. Hillary's slogan has not had the same effect. Let's see this. Look, I've said how much I admire Hillary's toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You've got admit it though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook, "Dear America. Did you get my poke? Isn't appearing on your wall? I'm not sure I'm using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary." It's not entirely persuasive.
Pres. Barack Obama: Meanwhile, on the Republican side, things are a little more – how shall we say this – a little more loose. Just look at the confusion over the 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. That's not an option, people. Steak or fish? You may not like steak or fish, but that's your choice.
Pres. Barack Obama: Meanwhile, some candidates aren't polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight. The rules were well established ahead of time. And then, there's Ted 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.
Pres. Barack Obama: Well, let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want to thank the Washington press corps. I want to thank Carol for all that you do. The free press is central to our democracy and, no, I'm just kidding. You know, I'm gonna talk about Trump. Come on. We weren't just gonna stop there. Come on.
Pres. Barack Obama: Although I am a little hurt that he's not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising. You've got a roomful 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?
Pres. Barack Obama: The Republican establishment is incredulous that he's 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.
Pres. Barack Obama: 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. All right, that's probably enough. I mean, I've got more material. No, no, no.
Pres. Barack Obama: 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 you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give this hotel business a boost. And, now we're praying that Cleveland makes it through July.
Pres. Barack Obama: As for me and Michelle, we've decided to stay in DC for a couple more years. Thank you. This way, our youngest daughter can finish up high school. Michelle can stay closer to a plot of carrots. She's already making plans to see them every day. Take a look.
Pres. Barack Obama: But our decision has actually presented a bit of a dilemma because, traditionally, presidents don't stick around after they're done. And it's something that I've been brooding about a little bit. Take a look.
Kristen Welker: The Obamas are staying in DC for two years after the president leaves office.
Chuck Todd: He's about to go from Commander-in-Chief to couch Commander.
Pres. Barack Obama: Boo, Chuck Todd. What am I going to do in DC for two years?
Joe Biden: It sounds like a dilemma, Mr. President.
Pres. Barack Obama: I can't golf every day, can't I?
Joe Biden: Which do you like better, this or this?
Pres. Barack Obama: Joe, they're the same.
Joe Biden: They capture different moods.
Pres. Barack Obama: Joe, I need some focus here.
Joe Biden: [Indecipherable].
Pres. Barack Obama: I'm sorry. What's that?
Joe Biden: I said, Mr. President, that you had to be practical. Look, you can drive again. You're going to need a license. You love sports. Why don't you volunteer to work for one of the teams around here?
Kristen Welker: Is this the Washington Wizards? I understand you're looking for some coaching help. Let's just say I coach my daughter's team a few times. Hello. Hello.
Female Voice: Ready for him.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, I'm going to be in DC for a while. And I thought I'd take up driving again.
Female Voice: What's the name?
Pres. Barack Obama: Barack Hussein Obama.
Female Voice: Yikes. Well, since you don't have a driver's license, you're gonna need a birth certificate.
Pres. Barack Obama: Really?
Female Voice: Really.
Pres. Barack Obama: It's real.
Chuck Todd: Is it?
Pres. Barack Obama: It's real.
Female Voice: But is it?
Pres. Barack Obama: Michelle left her phone. Let's see here She's got Snapchat. Obamacare is great, and it's really working. Sign up now.
Male Voice: Breaking news.
Male Voice: Michelle Obama in hot water after posting this video earlier today.
Pres. Barack Obama: Obamacare is great, and i really working. Sign up now.
Pres. Barack Obama: No?
Michelle Obama: No.
Pres. Barack Obama: Did we get a lot of views, at least?
Michelle Obama: Honey, enough. Why don't you just talk to somebody who's been through this? I gotta go to Soul Cycle.
Pres. Barack Obama: She's right. I know who I can to talk to.
Pres. Barack Obama: Hey, it's Barack. Listen, can we together?
Pres. Barack Obama: Now, that is a great movie.
John Boehner: Yeah.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, you got any advice for me?
John Boehner: So, now, you want my advice? First, stop sending me all these LinkedIn request. And second, here's the beauty of this whole thing, you've got all the time in the world to figure this out. You can just be you for a while if you're not going to do that again.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, I can just be me? And I can wear my mom jeans piece. I hate these tight jeans.
John Boehner: Good, good. Yesterday, I had a beer at 11:30 in the morning. And, you know, McDonald's now, serves breakfast all day long.
Pres. Barack Obama: You know, Michelle's gonna be at spin class, so she'll never know, right?
John Boehner: Let it go. And it won't be long, you'll be able to walk right out of the Oval Office singing, "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay." Man, you got plenty of time to work on your tan. And you know what? I finally got the grand bargain on a sweet Chevy Tahoe. Look here, you want one?
Male Voice: Barack Obama on his 347th round of golf for the year, and it's totally great. And Gloria, not a problem for anybody.
Gloria: I can't think of a reason to care. And believe me, I've tried.
Pres. Barack Obama: There you go. I am still waiting for all of you to respond to my invitation to connect to LinkedIn. But I know you have jobs to do, which is what really brings us here tonight.
Pres. Barack Obama: I know that there are times that we've had differences, and that's inherent in our institutional roles. It's true of every president and his press corps. But we've always shared the same goal, to root our public discourse in the truth, to open the doors of this democracy, to do whatever we can to make our country and our world more free and more just. And I've always appreciated the role that you have all played as equal partners in reaching these goals.
Pres. Barack Obama: And our free press is why we, once again, recognize the real journalists who uncover the horrifying scandal and brought some measure of justice for thousands of victims throughout the world. They are here with us tonight. Sasha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, Walter Robinson, Matt Caroll, and Ben Bradlee Jr. Please give them a big round of applause.
Pres. Barack Obama: A free press is why, once again, we honor Jason Rezaian, as Carol noted. Last time this year, we spoke of Jason's courage as he endured the isolation of an Iranian prison. This year, we see that courage in the flesh. And it's a living testament to the very idea of a free press and a reminder of the rising level of danger, and political intimidation, and physical threats faced by reporters overseas.
Pres. Barack Obama: And I can make this commitment that as long as I hold this office, my administration will continue to fight for the release of American journalists held against their will. And we will not stop until we may see the same freedom as Jason had.
Pres. Barack Obama: At home and abroad, journalists, like all of you, engage in the dogged pursuit of informing citizens, and holding leaders accountable, and making our government of the people possible. And it's an enormous responsibility. And I realize it's an enormous challenge at a time when the economics of the business sometimes incentivizes speed over depth, and when controversy and conflict are what most immediately attract readers and viewers. The good news is there's so many of you that are pushing against those trends. And as a citizen of this great democracy, I am grateful for that
Pres. Barack Obama: For this is also a time around the world when some of the fundamental ideals of liberal democracies are under attack and when notions of objectivity, and of a free press, and effects, and of evidence are trying to be undermined or, in some cases, ignored entirely. And in such a climate, it's not enough just to give people a megaphone. And that's why your power and your responsibility to dig, and to question, and to counter distortions and untruths is more important than ever.
Pres. Barack Obama: Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism. It affirms the idea that the only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself is by agreeing on a baseline of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all.
Pres. Barack Obama: So, this night is a testament to all of you who've devoted your lives to that idea, who push to shine a light on the truth every single day. So, I want to close my final White House correspondents' dinner by just saying thank you. I'm very proud of what you've done. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with you to strengthen our democracy. And with that, I just have two more words to say: Obama out.
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