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President Biden spoke at the first White House Correspondents’ Dinner since 2019 Saturday evening, poking fun at his low approval ratings and the Republican “Let’s Go Brandon” slogan targeting him. Some of his jokes got more laughs than others.
“Special thanks to the 42 percent of you that actually applauded,” Biden joked as he came onto the stage in front of a crowd of around 2,000 journalists and celebrities gathered at the Washington Hilton.
“I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have,” he added.
After joking about Republicans, he said they “seem to support some guy named Brandon,” referencing the “Let’s Go Brandon” cheer adopted by conservatives to mock him. “He’s having a really good year. And I’m happy for him!”
The president, who at 79 is the oldest commander-in-chief in U.S. history, also joked about his age, noting that the first Correspondents Dinner was during Calvin Coolidge’s presidency in 1924.
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“I’d just been elected to the United States Senate, where I remember telling Cal, just be yourself, get up there and speak from the heart,” Biden claimed. “You’re going to be great, kid.”
The president also threw some punches at one of his favorite targets: former President Trump.
He noted it was the first time a president had attended the dinner in six years. President Trump didn’t attend during his presidency and it was canceled for the last two years because of the coronavirus.
“It’s understandable,” Biden said, “We had a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID,” he joked to laughter and applause from the room, clearly referring to Trump as a “plague.”
He said it would have been a “real coup” if his predecessor had shown up at the dinner Saturday night.
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Continuing to mock Republicans, the president said “there’s nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t already put on tape,” referring to leaked tapes reported by the New York Times that showed the Republican House leader criticizing Trump.
Finally, Biden spoke on the importance of a free press, which he called “quintessentially American.”
He introduced comedian Trevor Noah, saying that, unlike in Moscow, the “Daily Show” host could mock the president without going to jail. After getting onstage, Noah joked it was high praise from the president that he could make his speech without being arrested.
“I stood here tonight and made fun of the President of the United States and I’m going to be fine,” Noah said at the end of his set, again mentioning Russian journalists being arrested for telling the truth. “I am going to be fine right?”