Sunday 22 October 2017

Obama pokes fun at Hilary Clinton 'living out of a van in Iowa' at White House dinner

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US President Barack Obama smiles at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US President Barack Obama smiles at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Huma Abedin and guest attend the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US First Lady Michelle Obama attends the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Actors Gabourey Sidibe(L) and Bailee Madison arrive at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: American journalist and author Katie Couric and some friends attend the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities.Photo by Olivier Douliery/ABACA
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US First Lady Michelle Obama attends the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: (center) Deborah Roberts, Rebecca Jarvis, and guests attend the Yahoo News/ABC News White House Correspondents' dinner reception pre-party at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Yahoo)
Actress Darby Stanchfield arrives at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Billie Jean King (L) and Ilana Kloss attend the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: (center) Deborah Roberts, Rebecca Jarvis, and guests attend the Yahoo News/ABC News White House Correspondents' dinner reception pre-party at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Yahoo)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Rikki Klieman attend the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Saturday Night Live's comedian Cecily Strong speaks with First Lady Michelle Obama at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump arrives at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Ivanka Trump arrives at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Model Hannah Davis arrives at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: The presidents translator, Luther (L), as portrayed by comedian Keegan-Michael Key, gestures as President Barack Obama speaks at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: The presidents translator, Luther (L), as portrayed by comedian Keegan-Michael Key, gestures as President Barack Obama speaks at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: The presidents translator, Luther (L), as portrayed by comedian Keegan-Michael Key, gestures as President Barack Obama speaks at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

Tanya Basu

At the gathering he jokingly called "a night when Washington celebrates itself," U.S. President Barack Obama took light-hearted aim on Saturday at a range of political friends and foes, including the people running to succeed him.

Obama's comedy routine at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner included a sly dig at Hillary Clinton, the current front-runner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

Noting that some Americans are living in a time of uncertainty, Obama said, "For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she's now living out of a van in Iowa."

Clinton, who as a former secretary of state, former senator and former first lady is one of America's best known figures, traveled around in a van this month in a deliberately low-key trip to the state that holds an early contest in the election primary season.

Obama, now in office for six years, is a polished performer at an event that draws journalists, politicians and celebrities to a cavernous ballroom in the Washington Hilton.

Gallery:  

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Cecily Strong attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Cecily Strong attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Jane Fonda attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Ivanka Trump attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Chrissy Teigen attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Martha Stewart attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Sophia Bush attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Lucy Liu attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: News correspondent Tamron Hall attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Gabourey Sidibe and Bailee Madison attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Host Cecily Strong attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Some of his jokes are stock, including a reference to how much his time as president has aged him. "I look so old," he said this year, "that John Boehner has already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral."

Obama was angered when Boehner, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress last month against a nuclear deal with Iran that the Obama administration was negotiating with other world powers.

The comedian at the dinner, Cecily Strong of NBC show "Saturday Night Live," also fired freely around the audience. Taking a jab at some media coverage of women politicians, she had the audience repeat after her, "I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary's appearance, because that is not journalism."

Strong also took aim at the Secret Service that protects Obama, which has seen a slew of embarrassing recent bungles. Referring to a series of deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement that have provoked protests around the country, she said, "They're the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot."

On a serious note, Obama noted there were journalists around the world who were unjustly imprisoned, and cited the case of Jason Rezaian of the Washington Post, an American-Iranian who is in prison in Iran.

"For nine months, Jason has been imprisoned in Tehran for nothing more than writing about the hopes and the fears of the Iranian people," Obama said, adding that he had told Rezaian's brother Ali that he would not rest "until we bring him home to his family safe and sound."

The case represents a point of friction with Iran at a time when the Obama administration is seeking with five other major powers to conclude a nuclear deal with Tehran after reaching a framework agreement earlier this month.

The dinner, a long-running tradition organized by the White House Correspondents' Association, has morphed from being a relatively low-key gathering of journalists and their sources from around town. In recent years, media organizations have invited not just sources but Hollywood stars and sports celebrities.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and comedienne Cecily Strong of the Saturday Night Live show chat during the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: First Lady Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama and comedienne Cecily Strong of the Saturday Night Live show chat during the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Comedienne Cecily Strong of the Saturday Night Live show speaks at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks next comedian Keegan-Michael Key playing "Luther, Obama's anger translator" at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama speaks next comedian Keegan-Michael Key playing "Luther, Obama's anger translator" at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPASYURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images
Musician Pete Wentz (R) and girlfriend Meagan Camper arrive at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Katie Couric and husband John Molner arrive at White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) annual dinner in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMMNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Washington has a love-hate relationship with its annual spring party. Those who go tend to enjoy having dinner with the president, albeit along with more than 2,600 others, seeing sources in a semi-casual setting and mingling with celebrities.

But the dinner also draws an annual chorus of condemnation from critics who say that laughing and partying with sources is not conducive to hard-hitting journalism.

The dinner is actually a weekend of events - various media organizations host pre- and post-dinner parties that give the affair an echo of Hollywood at Oscar time.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US First Lady Michelle Obama attends the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US First Lady Michelle Obama attends the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Saturday Night Live's comedian Cecily Strong speaks with First Lady Michelle Obama at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: US First Lady Michelle Obama attends the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities.Photo by Olivier Douliery/ABACA
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: American journalist and author Katie Couric and some friends attend the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

Reuters

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