Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • PRESIDENT OBAMA:

  • Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you so much.

  • Everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat. Before I get started, can we get the new presidential

  • set up out here?

  • (MUSIC)

  • It's worked before. That's more like it.

  • It is great to be back. What a year, huh?

  • I usually start these dinners with a few self deprecating jokes after my stellar 2013 what

  • could I possibly talk about?

  • I admit it. Last year was rough. Sheesh!

  • At one point things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize.

  • Of course, we rolled out Healthcare.gov. That could have gone better.

  • In 2008, my slogan was ``Yes, we can''. In 2013 my slogan was ``Control, alt, delete.''

  • On the plus side, they did turn the launch of Healthcare.gov into the launch of one the

  • year's biggest movies.

  • But rather than dwell on the past I would like to pivot to this dinner.

  • Let's welcome our headliner this evening, Joel McHale.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • On ``Community'', Joel plays a preening, self obsessed narcissist. So, this dinner must

  • be a real change of pace for you.

  • I want to thank the White House correspondents' association for hosting us here tonight. I

  • am happy to be here even though I am a little jet lagged from my trip to Malaysia, the lengths

  • we have to go to the get CNN coverage these days.

  • I think they're still searching for their table. MSNBC is here. They're a little overwhelmed.

  • They've never seen an audience this big before.

  • But, look, everybody is trying to keep up with this incredibly fast-changing media landscape.

  • For example, I got a lot of grief on cable news for promoting Obamacare to young people

  • between two ferns. And I'm not the first young person on television between two potted plants.

  • Sometimes I do feel disrespected by you reporters. But that's okay. Seattle Seahawk cornerback

  • Richard Sherman is here tonight and he gave -- he gave me some great tips on how to handle

  • it.

  • Jake Tapper, don't you ever talk about me like that! I'm the best president in the game.

  • What do you think, Richard? Was that good? A little more feeling next time?

  • While we're talking sports, just last month a wonderful story -- an American won the Boston

  • Marathon for the first time in 30 years.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • Which was inspiring and only fair since a Kenyan has been president for the last six.

  • Had to even things out.

  • We have other athletes here tonight including Olympic snowboarding gold medalist, Jamie

  • Anderson is here. We're proud of her.

  • Incredibly talented young lady. Michelle and I watched the Olympics, we can't believe what

  • these young folks do. Death defying feats. I haven't seen 180 so fast since Rand Paul

  • disinvited that Nevada rancher from this dinner.

  • As a general rule, things don't end well if the sentence starts ``let me tell you something

  • I know about the Negro.''

  • You don't really need to hear the rest of it.

  • Just a tip for you. Don't start your sentence that way.

  • Speaking of Rand Paul, Colorado legalized marijuana this year, an interesting social

  • experiment. I do hope it doesn't lead to a whole lot of paranoid people who think that

  • the federal government is out to get them and listening to their phone calls. That would

  • be a problem.

  • And speaking of conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought a table here tonight. But

  • as usual they used a shadowy right wing organization as a front. Hello, FOX News.

  • I'm just kidding. Let's face it, FOX, you'll miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to

  • convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.

  • (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

  • A lot of us really are concerned about the way big money is influencing our politics.

  • I remember when a superpack was just me buying Marlboro 100s instead of regulars.

  • Of course, now that it's 2014, Washington is obsessed on the midterms. Folks are saying

  • with my sagging poll numbers, my fellow Democrats don't really want me campaigning with them.

  • And I don't think that's true, although I did notice the other day that Sasha needed

  • a speaker at Career Day and she invited Bill Clinton. I was a little hurt by that.

  • Both sides are doing whatever it takes to win. The ruthless game. Republicans -- this

  • is a true story. Republicans actually brought in a group of consultants to teach their candidates

  • how to speak to women.

  • This is true. And I don't know if it will work with women but I understand that America's

  • teenage boys are signing up to run for the Senate in droves.

  • Anyway, while you guys focus on the horse race, I'm going to do what I do, I'm going

  • to be focused on everyday Americans. Just yesterday, I read a heart breaking letter.

  • You know, I get letters from folks around the country every day. I get 10 that I read.

  • This one got to me. A Virginia man has been stuck in the same part-time job for years,

  • no respect from his boss, no chance to get ahead.

  • I really wish Eric Cantor would stop writing me.

  • You can just pick up the phone, Eric.

  • And I'm feeling sorry -- believe it or not -- for the speaker of the House as well. These

  • days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give

  • me, which means orange really is the new black.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • But I have not given up the idea of working with Congress. In fact two weeks ago, Senator

  • Ted Cruz and I we got a bill done together and I have to say the signing ceremony was

  • something special. We have a picture of it, I think.

  • Look, I know. Washington seems more dysfunctional than ever. Gridlock has gotten so bad in this

  • town you have a to wonder what did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?

  • One issue, for example we haven't been able to agree on is unemployment insurance. Republicans

  • continue to refuse to extend it. And you know what? I am beginning to think

  • they've got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run

  • for Congress, just like everybody else.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • Of course there is one thing that keeps Republicans busy, they have tried more than 50 times to

  • repeal Obamacare. Despite that, 8 million people signed up for health care in the first

  • open enrollment.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • Which does lead one to ask how well does Obamacare have to work before you don't want to repeal

  • it? What if everybody's cholesterol drops to 120? What if your yearly checkup came with

  • tickets to a Clipper's game -- not the old Don Sterling Clippers, the new Oprah Clippers?

  • Would that be good enough?

  • What if it gave Mitch McConnell a pulse? What is it going to take?

  • Anyway. This year I've promised to use more executive actions to get things done without

  • Congress. My critics call this the imperial presidency.

  • The truth is I show up every day at my office and do my job. We have a picture of this,

  • I think.

  • You would think they'd appreciate a more assertive approach considering that the new conservative

  • darling is none other than Vladimir Putin. Last year, Pat Buchanan said Putin is headed

  • straight for the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • He said this. I know it sounds crazy. But to be fair they give those to just about anybody

  • these days. So it could happen.

  • But it's not just Pat. Rudy Giuliani said Putin is what you call a leader. Mike Huckabee

  • and Sean Hannity keep talking about his bare chest, which is kind of weird.

  • (LAUGHER)

  • Look it up. They talk about it a lot.

  • It is strange to think that I have two and a half years left in this office. Everywhere

  • I look, there are reminders that I only hold this job temporarily.

  • But, it's a long time between now and 2016 and anything can happen. You may have heard

  • the other day, Hillary had to dodge a flying shoe at a press conference.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • I love that picture.

  • Regardless of what happens, I've run my last campaign and beginning to think about my legacy.

  • Some of you know Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced he is naming a high school after

  • me in Chicago which is extremely humbling. I was even more flattered to hear Rick Perry,

  • who is here tonight, is doing the same thing in Texas. Take a look.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • Thank you, Rick. It means a lot to me.

  • And I intend to enjoy all the free time that I will have. George W. Bush took up painting

  • after he left office, which inspired me to take up my own artistic side.

  • I'm sure we've got a shot of this. Maybe not. The joke doesn't work without the slide.

  • Oh, well. Assume that it was funny.

  • Does this happen to you, Joel? It does, OK.

  • On a more serious note -- tonight reminds us that we are really lucky to live in a country

  • where reporters get to give a head of state a hard time on a daily basis and then once

  • a year give him or her the chance at least to try to return the favor.

  • But we also know that not every journalist or photographer or crew member is so fortunate

  • because even as we celebrate the free press tonight, our thoughts are with those in places

  • around the globe, like Ukraine and Afghanistan and Syria and Egypt, who risk everything in

  • some cases even give their lives to report the news. And what tonight also reminds us

  • is that the fight for full and fair access goes beyond the chance to ask a question.

  • As Steve mentioned, decades ago an African-American who wanted to cover his or her president might

  • be barred from journalism school, burdened by Jim Crow and once in Washington, banned

  • from press conferences. But after years of effort, black editors and publishers began

  • meeting with FDR's press secretary, Steve Early. Then they met with the president himself

  • who declared that a black reporter would get a credential.

  • And even when Harry McAlpin made history as the first African- American to attend a presidential

  • news conference, he wasn't always welcomed by the other reporters. He was welcomed by

  • the president, who told him, ``I'm glad to see you McAlpin, and I'm very happy to have

  • you here.''

  • Now, that sentiment might have worn off once Harry asked him a question or two. And Harry's

  • battles continued, but he made history. And we're so proud of Sherman and his family for

  • being here tonight and the White House Correspondents Association for creating the scholarship in

  • Harry's name.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • For over 100 years even as the White House Correspondents' Association has told the story

  • of America's progress, you lived it, too, gradually allowing equal access to women,

  • minorities, and gays, and American's with disabilities -- and yes, radio and television

  • and Internet reporters as well. And through it all, you helped make sure that even as

  • societies change, our fundamental commitment to the interaction between those who govern

  • and those who ask questions doesn't change. And as Jay will attest, it's a legacy you

  • carry on enthusiastically every single day.

  • And because this is the 100th anniversary of the correspondents' association, I actually

  • recorded an additional brief video thanking all of you for your hard work.

  • Can we run the video?

  • (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

  • OBAMA: Congratulations --

  • (END VIDEO CLIP)

  • OBAMA: What's going on? I was told this would work. Does anyone know how to fix this?