'Colbert Report' a Clinton, Obama platform


PHILADELPHIA -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton played up her image as a tireless problem solver -- this time for laughs -- when she visited Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" on Thursday night.

Not to be outdone, Sen. Barack Obama, her rival for the Democratic nomination, showed up via satellite to poke fun at what he called the media's fixation on gaffes and trivialities.

Clinton emerged just as host Stephen Colbert, broadcasting from the University of Pennsylvania ahead of the state's primary Tuesday, was lamenting that he had no technicians to repair the lost signal on his giant rear projector screen.

"Are you telling me there is no one in this theater who can fix the mess we're in?" Colbert cried out.

"I can," Clinton said as she strolled onstage. She questioned an assistant about technical specifics before figuring out the problem. Then she called out a makeup artist to take care of Colbert's shiny forehead.

"Wow, Sen. Clinton, you are so prepared for any situation!" Colbert exclaimed. "I just don't know how to thank you enough."

"I just love solving problems. Call me any time," Clinton replied. "Call me at 3 a.m."

She exited without ever sitting down -- exactly two minutes after she had entered.

"I'm sure she left her cell phone number," Colbert quipped.

Later, Colbert rapped Obama for belittling the questions he received in Wednesday's televised debate on ABC News. While campaigning Thursday in North Carolina, Obama complained that the debate fixated on matters like his controversial former pastor instead of issues affecting voters.

"Well, Stephen, I think the American people are tired of these political games and petty distractions," Obama said.

"Sir, speaking for the news media, we are not tired of it," Colbert retorted.

Obama announced he was putting "manufactured distractions" on notice, and Colbert promptly added them to the notice board.

Backstage, Clinton shared a private chat with her old rival John Edwards, who also appeared on the program. Clinton aides wouldn't divulge what they discussed during the brief meeting.

Edwards has declined so far to endorse either Clinton or Obama -- an endorsement that would be welcome ahead of the May 6 primary in the 2004 vice presidential nominee's home state of North Carolina.