The “presentation was not the way it needed to be,” President Obama told Jon Stewart on The Daily Show today about his first debate performance against Mitt Romney. Obama claimed he had an “off night” on October 3, according to White House pool reports covering the president’s interview, which is scheduled to air tonight on Comedy Central. In his sixth visit to the faux-news show and second since becoming president, Obama also talked about the bestselling erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Grey as well as national security and economic issues. There’s been a brouhaha over Obama today clinically saying, “if four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.” However, the transcript of the exchange shows that Stewart used the word “optimal” in his question about the killing of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three others in early September and that’s what the President was responding to. Obama’s latest turn on the show comes while he in NYC for fundraisers and the annual Al Smith Dinner, where he and Romney will speak tonight. Here’s the condensed and edited pool report of the interview:
Daily show staff said the studio holds about 220 people in the live audience, and the show is taping about 2 1/2 hours earlier than the normal 6 -6:30 p.m. taping to accommodate POTUS. Potus sat for two segments with Jon Stewart of roughly seven minutes apiece, broken up by a commercial break. … He sat across from Stewart at the interview desk with two blue mugs on it. Obama did not remove the lid from his. The president spoke on topics ranging from the choice between him and Romney to the political gridlock in Washington to Benghazi to Guantanamo.
Before Potus came out, Stewart opened with a monologue making fun of how the media spun the debate in relation to women voters and how turned off said voters were supposed to be by the rough and tumble nature of the debate … He brought out Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee, who played along and said women were going to pick their candidate with a “final rose … like on the Bachelorette.”
Potus came out after the first break wearing his pink wrist band, and he immediately gave a shout out to “some amazing women warriors” from the USO who were in the audience. “I had nothing to do with this” he said. Then Stewart said he was making a campaign scrapbook and showed Obama two pictures of the debate but wasn’t sure which was which. One showed Michelle Obama looking at him very angrily onstage afterward, and the other showed her smiling broadly at him afterward. “Do you know which debate was which?” Stewart asked. “Cute. Cute Jon,” Potus said with a smile. Obama said he had an “off night” at the first debate, adding that the “presentation was not the way it needed to be.” But he said the issues were the same in both debates. “Governor Romney makes a good presentation but the fundamentals he’s calling for are the same policies that got us into this mess.”
The second segment started with a light question: How many times a week does Biden come into a meeting in wet bathing suit. POTUS answered that he had to put out a presidential directive on that. “We had to stop that,” he said dryly, adding: “I gotta say though he looks pretty good.”
Stewart asked about the Bush wiretapping program. POTUS said it has been modified, with a “legal structure and safeguards in place that weren’t there before.” “They aren’t sexy issues,” POTUS said. “You don’t know what I find sexy,” Stewart quipped. POTUS alluded to the opening segment in which Stewart referenced the book “50 Shades of Gray.” “I know what you’ve been reading,” he joked. But declined to press further because, after all, he is still president.
Stewart ended by asking, during the course of their 12-14 minutes together, how many emails POTUS’ campaign sent him. “It depends on whether you’ve maxed out!” POTUS answered. Ended with a bit of stump about how the stakes could not be bigger. “There is no excuse not to vote,” he said, and he hopes they vote for him. Pool was quickly ushered out and into the vans. Motorcade moved quickly to Waldorf Astoria, where we are waiting several hours in a hold. Potus is meeting privately with campaign donors.