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President Barack Obama tackled weighty issues such as Libya and his “off night” at the first presidential debate during a taping of The Daily Show Thursday. But with Jon Stewart in the interviewer’s chair, there was a time for comedy as well, with the president weighing in on Fifty Shades of Grey and revealing his thoughts of Vice President Joe Biden’s swimwear.
Below are five key takeaways from the president’s sixth appearance (and second as commander-in-chief) on the Comedy Central program, as gleaned from a pool report. The interview airs tonight at 11 p.m. ET.
1. The President called the first debate “an off night.”
Stewart teased Obama about his first debate performance, showing the president two photos of Michelle Obama, one from each of the debates so far. The First Lady was looking rather angry in one and quite happy in the other. “Do you know which debate was which?” Stewart asked.
“Cute. Cute, Jon,” Obama said with a smile. Obama acknowledged he “had an off night” during the first debate, and that his “presentation was not the way it needed to be.”
2. Stewart pushed Obama on Libya.
The Daily Show host questioned the government’s response after the attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, calling it “not the optimal response.”
The State Department and the White House were criticized for seemingly contradicting each other when explaining what had happened in the attack, which killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Obama said “if four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal,” and called the government “a big operation and [at] any given time something screws up.” He said as president, “you make sure that you find out what’s broken and you fix it” and vowed to do that in this situation.
3. Obama repeated pledge to closing Guantanamo.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama said he would close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay. And during his first week in office, he issued an executive order that it be shut down by January 2010. That never happened, because of some maneuvering in Congress to keep it open.
“I still want to close Guantanamo. We haven’t been able to get that through Congress,” Obama told Stewart. “One of the things we have to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help to do that so that not only am I reined in but any president’s reined in terms of some of the decisions we’re making.”
4. Stewart is scared his taxes will go up.
Stewart noted that many of the president’s policy ambitions had been stalled in Congress during Obama’s term. Could he make the case he will be more successful legislatively if given a second?
Obama said his goal was to see that “as many Democrats are elected as possible” and win some seats back in Congress. He added that he would reduce the deficit if he could convince Republicans to ask “millionaires and billionaires to pay another dime in extra taxes.”
Stewart, in mock concern, said: “Wait, this is the first time I’m hearing about this about millionaires. What are you doing to us?”
5. Obama revealed his Biden swimsuit ban.
In a lighter moment, Stewart — perhaps channeling The Onion’s characterization of the vice president — asked how often Biden shows up at a meeting wearing nothing but a wet swimsuit. Obama said he put out a directive to end that behavior.
“We had to stop that,” he said, adding: “I gotta say though, he looks pretty good.”
Obama also made reference to the opening segment in the show, in which Stewart joked about Fifty Shades of Grey.
“I know what you’ve been reading,” he joked, but did not take it any further, out of respect for his office.
Watch the videos below.
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