Fw: Pool #3 / Gridiron

From: Fritze, John [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2015 10:28 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N.
Subject: Pool #3 / Gridiron

Print pool entered the Renaissance ballroom at 10:04 p.m. just as the president, in white tie, took his place at the lectern. There are several dozen people sitting at the head table, including Obama, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (who made it down from NH sans $1 sweater), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Gridiron president Clarence Page.

At the front of the room is a roughly six-foot tall, griddle made out of off-white lights – the club’s symbol. Guests are sitting at long tables, with white linens, sipping wine. Several colleagues have reported to your pooler that Hank Aaron has received the most attention among the stars in the room (other notable guests named in pool #2). Pool also spotted Gov. Rick Perry and Chris Matthews.

Please check quotes against forthcoming transcript but, in the meantime, here is the gist:

Obama started off by predicting he’d get more laughs than in past years.

“I’m not saying I’m any funnier. I’m saying weed is now legal in D.C.”

He then moved on to several age jokes.

“Just a few years ago I could never imagine being in my 50s. And when it comes to my approval ratings, I still can’t.”

Obama said that he was once known as the young, tech savvy candidate, but noted that, now, “Hillary has a server in her house! I didn’t even know you could have one of those. I am so far behind.”

Several Biden jokes: “Joe rubs my shoulders, too,” the president said. “It’s not bad. It feels pretty good. I don’t let him give me a pedicure, but..”

Obama had a long riff on Walker, noting he: “…punted on the question of evolution, which I do think is a problem. I absolutely agree in the theory of evolution – when it comes to gay marriage.”

Then: “If I did not love America, I wouldn’t have moved here from Kenya.”

Obama took a jab at the club. He joked that political analysts had determined that the Democratic party needed to focus more on older, white voters.  “Which,” Obama said, “is why I’m here.”

On Cotton letter: “You don’t diminish your office by taking a selfie. You do it by sending a poorly written letter to Iran. Really. That wasn’t a joke.”

President spoke for just under 13 minutes. We were whisked out of the room at 10:18 p.m. to the din of applause.

A note on the pool itself: In 2013, the last time the president addressed the dinner, only the print pooler covered the remarks. This year five journalists entered the room: Three wire poolers, one TV producer and me. No cameras.

At 10:24 p.m. we are loaded up for our return to the White House.

John Fritze
The Baltimore Sun
Mobile: xxx-xxx-xxxx

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