Obama leaves punchlines to The Roots as he talks about student loans
If things works out for President Obama, millions of college students today will watch and pass along video of him slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon — and remember what he said.
The president's "Late Night" appearance cagily appealed to several important blocks of voters. Appearing at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, he reached out to the crucial swing state, and to students who helped propel him to victory in 2008. He hit on an issue close to their hearts — student loan payments — and tried to deliver his message in a catchy song — albeit a wordy one.
Among the highlights? The part about how Democrats and Republicans should come together "like Kim and Kanye" — to keep interest rates on Stafford student loans from doubling. No, the president didn't reference Kim Kardashian. That line went to Roots vocalist Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter.
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But he did get to deliver red-meat lines criticizing Republicans who he says haven't worked with him on the issue.
"They say we should be doing everything we can to pay down the national debt. Well, so long as it doesn't involve taking billionaires," he said.
We know Obama — who Trotter dubbed "the POTUS with the mostess" during the song — can sing. The president crooned a little Al Green months ago. But on "Late Night" he talked through the song with the same cadence he uses in speeches.
There was some question about what song The Roots would play during Obama's intro, given that they famously played (and later apologized for playing) a song called "Lyin Ass B—-" during a November appearance by Republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
But Obama walked out to no music, only applause, and then went into the song.
Obama also fielded questions from Fallon and Twitter. Marijuana won't be legalized anytime soon, he told one tweeter. But he said he had quit smoking cigarettes (the kind with tobacco) for good, and said what he would say to Mitt Romney if he saw him in person.
"I'd say, Hey Mitt," Obama said. "I've met him, but we're not friends." The audience laughed. "He sems ike somebody who cares deeply aout his family, and his wife is lovely," the president added.
He also said that a contentious presidential campaign is "not, like, the best introduction to somebody."