President Obama may have been all smiles for his sixth appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart earlier tonight, but the conversation, for the most part, was far from a joke.
Stewart did start on a light note, teasing the President on his poor first debate performance. He showed the president two photos of Michelle Obama – one angry-looking from after the first debate, and one grinning after the second – and told him he was making a scrapbook and wondered if Obama could tell him which photo was after which. “Cute. Cute, Jon,” Obama said with a laugh.
After that, Stewart dove into harder topics. In the first of two segments, Obama touted his record, and stuck to talking points about the auto industry and inheriting a bad economy. Most interestingly, Stewart asked him what the stronger case was: an “affirmative case” for a second Obama term, or a negative case for a Mitt Romney administration. Obama predictably said both. “We have a very strong story to tell whether it is on social issues such as ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or on economic issues that matter for middle-class families,” he said. He continued, on the other side of the equation: “You want a president in the Oval Office who’s going to say, ‘No, we’re not going to amend our constitution for the first time to restrict rights for gay and lesbian couples,’” a line that was met with some of the loudest applause of the night.
In the second segment, Stewart drilled him on everything from the number of times Joe Biden rolls into meetings in a wet bathing suit — “I had to put out a presidential directive on that,” Obama joked — to much more serious matters such as the situation in Libya, particularly regarding the administration’s immediate response (Stewart noted it seemed there was some confusion). “We weren’t confused about the fact that four Americans had been killed,” Obama said. “I wasn’t confused about the fact that we needed to ramp up diplomatic security around the world right after it happened. I wasn’t confused about the fact that we had to investigate exactly what happened so it gets fixed. And I wasn’t confused about the fact that we’re going to hunt down whoever did it and bring them to justice.”
When talking about values, and the trade-offs you have to make between liberty and security, the duo brought illegal wiretapping and Fifty Shades of Grey into the same exchange — but (Sorry, undecided voters!) you won’t find out Obama’s thoughts on the sexy bestseller. While explaining the modifications he made to Bush-era policies, Obama said, “These are not sexy issues,” to which Stewart quipped, “You don’t know what I find sexy!” The president laughed, and then said, “I saw you flash that Shades of Grey thing [book cover in an earlier segment]. I know what you’ve been reading. We’re not going to go there. I’m still the president.”
They wrapped up their chat when Stewart asked how many emails his campaign had sent in the past 12 minutes he’d been on the show. “This is what I’ll say to everyone watching,” he said in his final remark. “The stakes on this could not be bigger. War, peace, Supreme Court, women’s rights issues, whether we’re creating jobs in this country or getting shipped overseas, whether our kids are getting the best education they can. All that stuff is at stake. There is no excuse not to vote… And I hope you vote for me!”
Update: Here’s video of the entire interview:
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