Obama on Letterman: The President Represents the Whole Country
While GOP nominee Mitt Romney tried to dig out from under the political debris created by a secretly recorded video, President Obama hit Manhattan on Tuesday for a little high-quality free media and some serious campaign cash.
After a brief flight from Washington, the chief executive taped the second Late Show With David Letterman appearance of his presidency, then went on to join Jay-Z and Beyonce for a $40,000-a-person fund-raiser at the rap superstar’s swank 40/40 Club. That exclusive gathering of 100 invited guests was expected to net the Obama campaign at least $4 million.
At the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre, where David Letterman tapes his show, the president appeared relaxed and, when the host told him he looked “great” and asked his weight, Obama -- who keeps in shape with regular basketball games -- laughingly replied, “About 180.”
Tuesday’s political coverage continued to be dominated by fallout from Mother Jones magazine's release of a bootleg recording of Romney speaking to a closed fund-raiser. “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," said Romney in the video. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax.”
Letterman asked Obama about Romney's controversial comments, and the president replied, “One of the things I learned as president is you represent the entire country. If you want to be president, you have to work for everyone.”
Obama told the host that “this is a big country. And people disagree a lot, but one thing I’ve never tried to do -- and I think none of us can do in public office -- is suggest that because someone doesn’t agree with me that they’re victims or they’re unpatriotic.
"There are not a lot of people out there who think they’re victims,” he added. “There are not a lot of people who think they’re entitled to something.”
Even so, noted the president, “We’ve got some obligations to each other, and there’s nothing wrong with us giving each other a helping hand so that that single mom’s kid, after all the work she’s done, can afford to go to college.”
Letterman later asked Obama to explain the nation’s budget crisis at length and to comment on the gridlock that much of the nation sees in Washington. “There’s more than enough blame to spread around,” said Obama. “These problems have been around for a decade or more.”
For his Top 10 list, Letterman chose the questions that the Secret Service asked his staff in preparation for the president’s visit, including, “Who’s gonna frisk Letterman’s hairpiece?”
Letterman remarked on how grown-up Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, looked at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this month.
“Does that kill you?” asked Letterman.
“It worries me, but they’re surrounded by men with guns,” replied Obama.
Later, Obama delivered remarks at a fund-raising reception with about 200 people at the Waldorf-Astoria. He then moved on to the event at Jay-Z's club.
The president reminded the Waldorf audience that the election is seven weeks from today.
"Spend these next seven weeks really focused on this election," he said.
Obama also mentioned the differing philosophies between the parties on education, energy and the military.
"This is my last race, but the stakes couldn't be higher," he said.
He also expressed concern that the Democrats were going to be outspent in the election.
"These folks have super PACs that are writing $10 million checks and are going to bury us under advertising like you've never seen before," said Obama. "We can't match these people dollar for dollar."