Sunday 4 December 2016

Obama trumps mogul with mocking speech

Toby Harnden in Washington

Published 02/05/2011 | 05:00

Barack Obama. Photo: AP
Barack Obama. Photo: AP

President Barack Obama mocked his would-be rival Donald Trump at a Washington dinner, sarcastically deriding the "credentials and breadth of experience" of the real-estate mogul and reality television host as he watched stone-faced.

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Mr Obama, speaking at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, the annual gathering of the Washington political establishment and glitterati, revelled in what his aides viewed as a major victory over critics last week when he released his full birth certificate, as Mr Trump had demanded.

"Donald Trump is here tonight," said Mr Obama, beaming. "Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter.

"Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?"

Roswell refers to an incident in New Mexico where, according to some theories, an object that crashed in 1947 was an spacecraft carrying alien occupants. Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were rap stars whose deaths are the subject of continuing controversy.

Mr Trump laughed initially but the smile soon faded from his face.

"All kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and experience," Mr Obama said. "In 'Celebrity Apprentice', the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks, but you recognised that this was a lack of leadership, so you fired Gary Busey. These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night."

At one point video screens in the ballroom flashed an image of what was labelled 'Trump, The White House', which mocked the mogul's practice of naming buildings after himself. The mock-up portrayed a hotel-casino-golf course at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with bikini-clad girls frolicking in the fountain on the White House front lawn.

Ridicule

Mr Obama used his speech to ridicule his opponents about the "birther" issue, the theory, seized on by Mr Trump, that he was not born in the US and was therefore ineligible to become president. The full birth certificate confirmed that he was born in Hawaii.

Mr Trump had fared well in early opinion polls of the Republican 2012 election field. However, party operatives dismiss his chances, pointing out his liberal stances, three marriages, donations to Democrats and penchant for the outrageous. The White House appears to have calculated that the more it can portray the Republicans as the party of Mr Trump, the better.

Following a visit to Alabama on Friday, Mr Obama also spoke of the devastation in the state where 250 died when tornadoes struck.

"It's going to be a long road back and so we need to keep those Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers. We also need to stand with them in the hard months and perhaps years to come," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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