White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Good evening. You know, I had an entire speech prepared for this wonderful occasion, but now that I’m here I think I’m going to try something a little different. Tonight I want to speak from the heart. I’m going to speak off the cuff. (Teleprompters rise.) (Laughter and applause.)

Good evening. (Laughter.) Pause for laughter. (Laughter.) Wait a minute, this may not be working as well as I — (laughter.) Let me try that again.

Good evening, everybody. (Applause.) I would like to welcome you all to the 10-day anniversary of my first 100 days. (Laughter.) I am Barack Obama. Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me. (Laughter and applause.) Apologies to the Fox table. (Laughter.) They’re — where are they? I have to confess I really did not want to be here tonight, but I knew I had to come — just one more problem that I’ve inherited from George W. Bush. (Laughter.)

But now that I’m here, it’s great to be here. It’s great to see all of you. Michelle Obama is here, the First Lady of the United States. (Applause.) Hasn’t she been an outstanding First Lady? (Applause.) She’s even begun to bridge the differences that have divided us for so long, because no matter which party you belong to we can all agree that Michelle has the right to bare arms. (Laughter and applause.)

Now Sasha and Malia aren’t here tonight because they’re grounded. You can’t just take Air Force One on a joy ride to Manhattan. (Laughter.) I don’t care whose kids you are. (Laughter.) We’ve been setting some ground rules here. They’re starting to get a little carried away.

Now, speaking — when I think about children obviously I think about Michelle and it reminds me that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the audience. (Applause.) I do have to say, though, that this is a tough holiday for Rahm Emanuel because he’s not used to saying the word “day” after “mother.” (Laughter.) That’s true. (Laughter.)

David Axelrod is here. You know, David and I have been together for a long time. I can still remember — I got to sort of — I tear up a little bit when I think back to that day that I called Ax so many years ago and said, you and I can do wonderful things together. And he said to me the same thing that partners all across America are saying to one another right now: Let’s go to Iowa and make it official. (Laughter and applause.)

Michael Steele is in the house tonight. (Applause.) Or as he would say, “in the heezy.” (Laughter.) What’s up? (Laughter.) Where is Michael? Michael, for the last time, the Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout. (Laughter.) Rush Limbaugh does not count as a troubled asset, I’m sorry. (Laughter.)

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